A popular Newcastle bingo hall has avoided closure as a national chain makes cuts, but another Northumberland venue has not been quite so lucky.

The Buzz Bingo chain is cutting 26 sites from their portfolio, with 573 jobs going in the process. Although the venue on Clifford Street is safe, sadly the Cramlington site will close as part of the restructure.

Chris Matthews, chief executive of Buzz Bingo, explained the business’ reasoning in an interview with the Guardian. “Following a thorough review of our options, the proposed CVA will restructure our retail portfolio to ensure we are well-positioned for a return to growth while adapting to the ongoing, challenging environment as we start to reopen the majority of our clubs.

“The restructure will, very sadly, impact a number of our colleagues and my priority is to support all those affected and keep them fully informed as we continue with this process. I would like to thank every single one of our colleagues for their continued understanding and commitment over this period.”

Buzz Bingo not only has venues in Newcastle and Cramlington but elsewhere in our region too. Sites at Wallsend, South Shields, Sunderland, Washington and Gateshead have all escaped the axe; ensuring bingo fans still have plenty of options in the area.

Bingo remains incredibly popular across the United Kingdom, with around 3.5 million active players in Britain. Those numbers increase further when you consider the number of players indulging in their hobby online. After suffering serious decline at the turn of the century, bingo has reinvented itself in many areas, appealing to a younger audience as well as the traditional demographic. Bongo’s Bingo here in Newcastle is a classic example of how the age-old game has been reinvented and reworked to appeal to a younger, more vibrant audience.

However, there is little doubt that the online gaming industry has helped re-launch bingo across the country. The 75-ball games offered by Foxy Bingo show how the game has been easily adapted for digital platforms, just as it has been modified for a younger audience in brick and mortar establishments. With many providers also offering short versions, such as 30-ball, it has evolved from the classic format to help broaden its appeal, both online and in some physical outlets.

That means many customers were relieved when some bingo halls finally got the go-ahead to open at the beginning of July, with a leading bingo provider amongst the first to throw open their doors on East Street in Gateshead. Buzz Bingo customers will have to wait a little longer though as they are set for a phased reopening as of the beginning of August, although none of the venues in our region are on the initial list of those accepting customers.

Newcastle-based bingo fans will have to wait a little longer before they can get their eyes down once again, but the good news is that the Newcastle venue will be opening their doors at some point, despite the national cuts being made by the chain.