The Western world’s battle against smoking has gotten more intense than ever, since the public smoking ban in the UK. At the time of the ban, it was estimated that 40 per cent of the three million bingo players in the country are smokers, which raised a lot of fear among bingo hall operators. This is very understandable, because the potential losses in profit would be huge. Attendance was not the only issue, because many of the bingo halls’ profits came from speed bingo games played during the intervals between bigger games. Smoking patrons would be much less likely to participate in those speed games because they would now be outside, lighting up.
In February 2008, not long after the ban, it was reported that the number of bingo halls operated in the country had gone down from 644 in 2007 to 616, bringing it to the lowest in 10 years. Unfortunately, the Government cannot realistically make bingo halls exempt from the ban because other entities negatively affected by the ban, such as pubs and members-only clubs, would petition for exemptions as well, defeating the purpose of this law in the first place.
Despite the negative effects of the smoking ban, the rise of online gambling is also a factor. Even though a lot of bingo purists claim that online bingo strips away the element of social interaction from their favourite pastime, online bingo halls such as golden bingo offer players the ability to play whenever and wherever they want. When they play bingo here, the smoking ban becomes irrelevant.