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Black Country bingo attracting a younger audience as halls reopen

Young people across the region have bingo-ing mad for a game of bingo.

Matt Gadd 30 and Zeta Gadd 27 from Smethwick, celebrate their 10th anniversary at the bingo. Matt said it was his dad's idea to come down
Matt Gadd 30 and Zeta Gadd 27 from Smethwick, celebrate their 10th anniversary at the bingo. Matt said it was his dad's idea to come down

Wedding anniversaries have been celebrated and nights with friends and family enjoyed with a night at Mecca Bingo clubs across the region, with a massive resurgence in interest by the younger generation.

The Bingo chain, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary next year, has reopened more than 70 clubs, including in Bilston, Brierley Hill and Oldbury.

A study of 2,000 people by the chain has shown that more than 40 percent of people aged 26 to 40 have been playing weekly and 15 percent monthly and some playing for the first time.

Matt Gadd from Smethwick was one of many enjoying a game at Mecca Bingo Oldbury on Saturday for the first time with his wife Zeta.

The 30-year-old Matt and 27-year-old Zeta were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary with an afternoon at the bingo, which Matt said was down to his dad.

He said: "It was my dad Ada who suggested we give it a go as we weren't doing anything for our anniversary until dinner in the evening, so thought we'd give it a go.

"We registered when we got there and didn't know what to expect, but it was really good fun and once we got past the first game, it was quite easy to get the hang of it.

Nikki Edwards, Gloria Woodcock, Helen Baker, Charlotte Woodcock from Oldbury enjoy a game. Charlotte said the whole experience was what brought them to the bingo

"It was a nice relaxed atmosphere and everything was done right with social distancing, so you felt safe and comfortable, and we both enjoyed ourselves."

The study also showed that 39 percent of people surveyed saying they had enjoyed a game with friends and family over the last four months.

Charlotte Woodcock has been going to the club several times over the last year with her friends Nikki Edwards, Gloria Woodcock and Helen Baker.

The 25-year-old said it was the fact that it was a cheap and fun night out which kept them coming back.

She said: "We try to go a few times a year and make a big night out of it and I know a lot of people from my university days who are always going there.

"We all joke about the stereotypes of it being for older people and how we're clearly getting out, but the truth is we really enjoy it and have a laugh.

"The food and drink is cheap, you might win some money and, in general, it's a lovely way to spend an evening."

Duty manager Becky Toovey said the popularity of the game had increased as the halls had become more modern places to go to .

She said: "There's been an increase in the technology, with electronic boards and touch and play, plus you can also order food and drink and play slot machines.

"I think people are starting to realise it's not just a game for older people, which was the stereotype for a long time, and they are seeing that you can win some money and have a good time, socialising with friends."

Ahead of its 60th birthday, Mecca Bingo is calling out for any memories of the much-loved game to be shared.

It is asking people to share their treasured memories, be that photographs, anecdotes, stories or memorabilia, on social media with the hashtag #MeccaMemories

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