Bingo on the high street

Steve Ambrose, Operations Director at Praesepe, who operates a number of brands including Merkur Cashino, Merkur Slots and Beacon Bingo, gives us an update on bingo on the high street.

Merkur Slots

High Street Bingo is an extremely important part of the Merkur player offering with the majority of the brand’s 160 Adult Gaming Centre (AGC) venues also having a bingo licence.

The development of electronic bingo in this environment has been driven almost exclusively by customer demand, with players either wanting to experience bingo on the high street in order to complement their visits to traditional dedicated bingo clubs or, in some cases because their local club has closed.

Bingo product, such as the highly successful and popular Bingo Express, sits very comfortably alongside the main AWP and B3 offering found within an AGC and provides added variety to a venue, helping to attract a cross-section of players and in the process broadening the player offer and base.

The Merkur pledge is to deliver the very best low stake, socially responsible gambling entertainment and bingo based, or themed games, certainly fit into that overarching objective.

Building consumer confidence throughout the economy is an essential component of the Government’s ‘bounce-back’ strategy. For in-person venues such as AGCs, building consumer confidence entails making customers feel safe and secure when attending a Merkur Slots venue. To help achieve this, like many other operators in the sector, Merkur has produced a COVID-19 Action Plan.

On arrival customers are asked to download the NHS Test and Trace app ready to check-in, and to use one of the many hand sanitising stations. Inside, dedicated teams are responsible for cleaning all machines and chairs after they have been used as well as additional high touch point areas including door handles and counters. In addition to this there are numerous social distancing markers in key areas where queues may form, such at change machines, ATMs or toilet facilities.

Machines either side of players are made unavailable to others, with some venues also featuring partitions to improve social distancing. Venue staff are also limiting the number of customers allowed inside at any one time. The challenge remains of how to continue to deliver on all of the protocols effectively and efficiently, while also making customers feel welcome, comfortable and at ease.

This is a challenge that the majority of retail and leisure businesses are continuing to face. However, there are signs that increasingly customers are viewing the provisions of and adherence to COVID safe procedures a key part of being made welcome and at ease.