Even if you ignore the developments in the political arena and on the football pitch, June has certainly been a busy month for news. (For those of you who do want to hear more about the consequences of Brexit, we’ll soon be posting an article about how it will impact on UK bingo players).
There’s definitely been plenty of drama within the bingo community: just this month, we’ve had news of a bingo hall bomb scare, a life-changing midnight win for a Welsh grandma, and a group of Canadian pensioners whose love of bingo has led to a run-in with the law. We’ll also be taking a look at this summer’s sporting calendar, and showing you how to mix the footie, tennis, and Olympics with a good old game of bingo.
This month wasn’t the first time that Mecca Bingo has clashed with the Muslim community. Controversy has long surrounded the fact that the club shares its name with the Holy city of Islam. Earlier in June, however, a club in South-East London faced a dire warning: ‘There is a bomb in the car-park. We are Islam.’
52-year-old Chris Hallam issued the threat, which turned out to be a hoax, whilst drunk, following a dispute with one of Mecca’s employees.
Thankfully, nobody was harmed in the incident, although Mr Hallam’s actions resulted in a huge waste of the emergency services’ time. Woolwich Crown Court found him guilty of making a hoax bomb threat — a charge he denies — and jailed him for 18 months.
With a big summer of sport already underway, there’s never been a better time to mix pastimes.
This year’s Euros have seen the fans, not the players, taking centre stage - and not for the right reasons. With clashes between rival groups of fans, and threats of disqualification for both England and Russia following hooligan violence, the football itself almost seems to have taken a back seat.
Sadly, if you were paying attention to the goings-on on the pitch, the news has been equally grim. England, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland all went out at the round of 16, with England’s loss to Iceland a particularly devastating result. This leaves Wales as the only home nation to progress to the quarter-finals.
Still, don’t despair — bingo is always there to lighten the mood! We’ve found this fantastic bingo card to track the ups and downs of England’s journey through the Euros — how many of these commentator clichés did you manage to hear along the way?
Besides, the sport is far from over this summer. With Wimbledon just starting, there are even more opportunities for sporting bingo fun. Back in 2013, Paddy Power produced this chart for Andy Murray bingo. It’s a little outdated, but I bet you’ll still get to hear most of them this year! Alternatively, take a look at the BBC's checklist for Wimbledon clichés. Why not let us know how many you can tick off?
And even when the football and tennis are both finished, there’s still the Olympics, just around the corner! We’d love to know if you’ve made your own Olympic-bingo chart — tell us about it in the comments below.
Whoever said that slots (and insomnia) don’t pay?
When Christine Johnstone struggled to fall asleep one night, her minor annoyance was more than cancelled out through the slot machine winnings she was about to receive. In the largest single payout in Sky Bingo’s history, the grandmother from North Wales found herself over £1.3 million better off… literally overnight!
As reported in the Mirror earlier this month, Chiropodist Christine isn’t ready to give up work just yet, but says the money will allow her to spend more time on charitable causes close to her heart. It will also help her to look after her mother, who is suffering from early-onset dementia.
We’re fairly sure that Mike, Christine’s husband of over 30 years, has forgiven her for waking him up in the small hours! The couple now plan to celebrate their huge bingo win by spending some time together on holiday.
Since 2006, Scottish-based bingo operator Club 3000 has grown to 14 clubs, spread across the UK. Now, the club is looking to develop even further, with particular plans to extend its reach into London, as an area of ‘continuing growth’.
The expansion has been made possible by the combined actions of Brian Fraser, owner and manager of the business; and Jim Wales, commercial relationship manager at the Lanarkshire Customer Banking Centre of Clydesdale Bank, with whom Fraser recently negotiated a multimillion pound refinancing deal.
The funds allowed Club 3000 to open 2 brand new bingo halls, with state-of-the-art facilities — and Fraser says there’s even more to come.
How far would you go to satisfy your love of bingo? Over 2,000 pensioners in Ontario, Canada have been warned that continuing to play at their community centre may mean they are in breach of the law.
The intervention followed a single complaint made to authorities, questioning the legitimacy of bingo. Technically, any game played for money in Canada must have a valid license in order to be considered legal.
Mayor Bonnie Crombie has condemned any action taken against the bingo club, and promised to campaign for the rules to be changed: “It’s a social activity… This is an unintended consequence of the gaming laws. We need to have that addressed."
Following the warning, some of the regulars at the community centre in question (based in Mississauga) have become nervous of playing in breach of the law. Others, like Frank Stendardo — president of the Huron Park Italo-Canadian Seniors Club — are defiant. He has been quoted by CBC as saying “I will keep on playing bingo until they come here and put handcuffs on me”.
It may be only be pennies that the pensioners are playing for, but the stakes have suddenly taken a sharp rise.
Susanne Joce has been jailed for 2 years after being found guilty at Plymouth Crown Court for 2 counts of fraud. Prior to his death in December 2014, David Hellyer had received a significant amount of compensation for his exposure to the toxic material asbestos, which had caused him to suffer, and eventually die from, asbestosis. He spent none of this money, saving it as inheritance for his children and grandchildren.
Hellyer’s chief carer, Joce, was left in charge of his bank card, withdrawing a small amount each week for him to live on, but significantly more to spend at her local Gala bingo hall. She squandered in the region of £400 a day.
Following Hellyer’s death, Joce failed to inform the bank, quickly transferring thousands of pounds of his remaining funds into her own account. She and son Christopher, 24 — who helped his mum to lose the money, but has been cleared by the court — then fled to Belfast on the eve of her step-father’s funeral. The family, growing suspicious, called the police, and discovered that Joce had stolen a grand total of £32 000!
Following their arrests, Susanne and Christopher have both relinquished their rights to a portion of the inheritance, which will be shared between Joce’s step-brothers and her other children.
Finally, would you keep playing straight after winning big on bingo? That’s exactly what one man did at Teesside Bingo Hall. After scooping a massive £77,777 prize, he decided to stay on, finishing the evening’s bingo session in style.
The identity of the player remains a mystery; Mecca will not release his personal details, but fellow contestants said he was clearly ‘shell-shocked’, amid tumultuous applause. He had reportedly been playing the live-linked game Lucky 7.
Whether he hoped to add to add to his winnings, or was simply trying to take things in, we’re loving the dedication!
Has this got you in the mood for winning? Head on over to our best Bingo Bonuses to try your luck.