Bingo hall finds way around smoking ban

With the upcoming smoking ban leaving many bingo companies worried about the effect it will have on their business, the Mecca Bingo hall in Barton Hill, Bristol, has come up with a novel way to allow its smoking customers to carry on playing bingo.

The smoking ban, due to reach England on July 1, has already been introduced in Scotland and has had drastic effects on many bingo halls. In preparation for the ban, Mecca Bingo has already announced the closure of nine of its halls.

In an attempt to get round the law and to retain the custom of its smoking players, this Mecca Bingo is installing a shelter outside the bingo hall with a PA system rigged up to it so smokers can continue playing and not miss any calls.

"Fortunately this is not a high street pub where you have no room to build a shelter outside, and so given the option, we have chosen to put one up,” said Ian Barber, from the hall.

"The company has had experience of the smoking ban coming into force in Scotland (in 2006), and it is something we need to do if we want to get smokers to play. The shelter is actually currently in production and is due to be delivered this month.”

The smoking shelter will accommodate up to 50 people and will be equipped with standing ashtrays, as well as heating and lighting.

Mr Barber also hinted that sometime in the future bingo-goers will be able to play with hand-held machines.

"Down the line, smokers might be able to take a hand-held bingo machine into the area, and carry on playing,” Mr Barber speculated.

Rank Group, who owns the Mecca Bingo brand, reported a loss of 15 per cent in sales in Scotland after the ban was introduced, so they will be keen to prevent that same scenario reoccurring in England.

Editor, - 2007-04-11 10:55:26

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