Bingo is one of the most-popular games in Britain. But these day, UK bingo halls are putting more and more slot machines around their buildings.
In fact, as the BBC reports, the number of slot machines in UK bingo halls has tripled in the last five years. Nowadays, most British bingo halls require you to walk through rows and rows of slot machines before finding the bingo action.
Bingo companies know that slots mean big business. The BBC points out that slot machines brought in £304 million for bingo business last year, hence the large number of slots packed in at the entrance.
Many of these machines are the same variety found in Vegas, where you bet £2 per spin every few seconds. Given the high coin denomination and faster frequency of slot machines, some British bingo parlor visitors are losing money at a quicker rate.
“The first time I lost a lot of money, £300… I felt absolutely sick and thought, ‘I’m never going to do this again,'” said Mary, a 70-year-old slots and bingo enthusiast.
“But I did. I would go through £1,000, £2,000 in an evening. I would walk outside without a penny to my name and go home and act completely normal.”
The good news is that the average slots player isn’t addicted this badly. But for those who are used to the slow pace of bingo, slot machines can be a big adjustment.
But 2.5% of bingo players have a serious gambling problem, including Mary, who has had major bankroll management troubles. She estimates losing £70,000 through bingo, and another £150,000 through online slots and bingo-hall-based slot machines.
Given that Mary is in the minority, the British government doesn’t see a big problem with slots gambling. So in 2011, they relaxed restrictions around how many slot machines bingo establishments can have.
The old rule was that businesses could only have up to 8 “high stakes” slot machines per licence. Now, they can offer an unlimited number as long as high-stakes slots don’t exceed 20% of the total gaming machines at a business.
Since the 2011 rule changes, the number of bingo-hall-based slot machines has increased from 6,226 to 10,014 in total.