Feature: What sort of men play bingo?
After a few years of marketing campaigns aimed at recruiting fun-loving young women into Bingo halls across the country, it seems that the game’s latest hip recruits are now men. But who are these men and how did they become involved in the Bingo revolution?
Recent market research reveals that 90% of all Bingo players in the UK are now under 50. The dated perception that it’s only the elderly that regularly indulge in a game of Bingo is apparently no more. However, it’s still a widely common misconception that out of these young people it’s only the women and perhaps a handful of their gay male friends that are making up this statistic.
In many parts of the world, such as Spain, Bingo has always been considered a very masculine past time. Even tracing back to the game’s origins in Italy in the 16th century it was only the men in the cities that used to play, with women being introduced to it much later.
Today it’s not exactly gone full circle but even so, if you walk into any Bingo hall across the UK you’ll probably find a good proportion of the players are men. Straight men, gay men and men of all ages and backgrounds. It may not have reached the point where they are visiting these venues in large groups like women tend to, but the increase in men returning to Bingo is still clearly evident. What’s becoming clear is that gay, straight or otherwise, if the average man is still concerned about playing what is commonly considered a women’s game then he really needn’t be.
Besides, if he’s that hung up about it he can just go online to get his Bingo kicks. With the inevitable rise and rise of online Bingo this is how many men are being introduced to the game anyway. All sorts of themed websites are popping up offering different Bingo fanatics the chance to play and win in a variety of ways. From ‘gay Bingo’ to the equally baffling ‘Big Brother Bingo,’ the Internet has opened up the game to a whole new audience.
What’s perhaps most interesting though are the number of websites emerging that are targeting a very specific type of man, namely the ‘Bingo Bloke’. And ‘bloke’ is probably the most accurate term for describing this particular target audience. Gone are the pink and fluffy website aesthetics and pampering holiday prizes; here we have gruff looking websites with black backgrounds and reasons such as ‘you play it drinking beer’ being used to persuade these men to get involved. Even mainstream Bingo site, GalaBingo.com has decidedly boyish blue visuals and rugged looking male presenters on its online shows.
So is this new wave of men who play Bingo really the straight, gruff, beer-swilling species that the Internet would have us believe? Probably not. In reality it’s more likely that these are just your average men, with varying levels of testosterone, some perhaps part of the gay and bisexual community and some perhaps not. Most men don’t play Bingo because they’re effeminate or because they’re not; most men play Bingo because they enjoy the game and sometimes they win big. Just like everybody else.