In this day and age, there is little remaining of the things that once made Britain unique. Online shopping and out-of-town shopping centres have destroyed the High Street. Once proud names in British history are being discredited, and their statues pulled down and replaced. The NHS is crumbling, and even the British Museum might be forced to return some of its treasures to those who claim prior ownership.
And despite the promises of its champions, Brexit has not resulted in some sort of resurgence of an Enid Blyton-style wonderland. Quite the opposite, in fact, with one of the UK’s most important and iconic industries, Culture, among the many being driven to the point of collapse as one of the not unpredicted results of the quest for mythical sunny uplands.
So where can you turn if you want to find a stalwart bastion of British Culture to hang your hat on? Dare we suggest the humble game of bingo? Contrary to popular belief, this simple gambling game was not introduced to these shores by American servicemen in the 1940s. The earliest form of bingo was played by market barrow women in the early 1700s. The Lord Mayor of London prohibited the barrow women from gambling with dice, so they round the law by carrying wheels marked with numbers.
The game really took off after it was legalised by the Gambling Act of 1968, and is still avidly played by adults in bingo halls up and down the country. And even more so at established online bingo sites. In fact, it is the latter that has given the game a new lease of life and ensured its survival into the 21st century.
The increasing digitalisation of our lives may have had negative consequences for some aspects of what is considered the British way of life. But it has been a boon to all forms of that great British pastime; gambling. And one of the major beneficiaries has been bingo.
After their heyday in the 60s and 70s, Bingo halls were already on the decline in the 1990s when the Internet was born. Rising property values and declining interest in the game saw many closed and pulled down for redevelopment. Then bingo went online, and that changed everything.
First and foremost, it changed the image of the game and attracted a wider, younger and more diverse audience. Technology meant that the game could now be used to make the game more interesting, varied and eye-catching. The range of games grew to include more fast-paced variants like 30-ball bingo, and hybrid games like Slingo, which combines elements of slots and bingo, also appeared.
This surge in interest in online bingo was followed by a resurgent interest in the land-based game, especially among hipsters. This has seen bingo halls opening up in trendy areas like Camden Town, where before, they were most often to be found in working-class areas. It is this ability to adapt and overcome while crossing the rigid class barriers of our society that makes Bingo such a continuously popular game.