History of the Biggest Bingo Brands and Bookmakers
Article published on September 15, 2017 02:49pm
by BingoPort Reviewer
Bingo is a game with a rich and interesting past, which has been around for many centuries. You might have already found out about all this in our history of bingo infographic, but this time we’re taking a look at things a bit closer to home. Read on for the history of the biggest UK bingo brands and bookmakers.
Mecca is one of the oldest names in bingo. We'd be shocked if you hadn't paid a visit to one of their halls—there’s a massive 86 of them situated across the country. The Mecca name was initially only seen on dance halls, but in the early sixties everything changed. A man called Eric Morley, who was also the founder of the Miss World pageant, popularised the game we all know and love by bringing it to the Mecca dance halls. Mecca’s popularity rocketed, and it grew from what was effectively a minor catering company to an entertainment giant.
These days, Mecca’s popularity in land-based bingo halls is matched by its impressive online presence.
Mecca Bingo is owned by a company called The Rank Group, which also owns Grosvenor Casinos. The Rank Group is a massive consortium which deals with all kinds of business matters. The company has a longstanding reputation within the gambling world, so you can be sure that you’re dealing with trustworthy characters at Mecca!
It’s not just traditional bingo halls that Mecca specialises in—they’ve also branched out to try and diversify and spread the joy of our favourite game!
Perhaps the most prominent example of this is the Luda café in Walsall. The first of its kind in the country, here you can play bingo, retro arcade games and much more, all within a high street setting. The venue’s been highly praised since its launch, and while it represents something of a departure from the old-school feel of many bingo halls, we’re sure you’ll love it all the same, so make sure to pay a visit if you’re in the area!
Who’s the face of Mecca Bingo?
Mecca Bingo is represented in the media by none other than Louise Redknapp, famous first and foremost as a member of the hugely popular 90s girl band Eternal, and secondly as the (currently estranged) wife of England-capped footballer Jamie Redknapp. Her girl-next-door vibe perfectly reflects the friendly and welcoming atmosphere that you’ll find both in Mecca’s bingo halls and online.
As well as its impressive land-based heritage, Mecca Bingo’s also one of our favourite places to play online. We can see that you might get a little bit lost with all that’s on offer on this behemoth of a site, so we’ve selected a few of our favourite slots for you to play.
Our favourite slots at Mecca Bingo
Pixies of the Forest
The famous nursery rhyme goes, ‘If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise’, and this slot certainly proves it right! Surrounded by a forest of enchanted pixies who dictate your fortune, will you win, or will you lose? There’s only one way to find out!
There are 5 reels and 99 paylines in this charming slot, and two bonus features offer you the chance to win in a big way. Also, there’s no need to wager a coin for each payline here—instead, one coin covers 3 paylines! This gives you a much greater chance of winning than with many other slots. Go on, have a flutter—you’re sure to have a magical time!
The Epic Journey
Have you ever wanted to Journey to the Centre of the Earth? Well, now you can with the Epic Journey slot machine! Based on the classic Jules Verne novel, you can experience the trip of a lifetime in this adventure-themed offering from Quickspin.
The graphics really are something to behold in this slot, but despite their distinctiveness, they’re unlikely to be the first thing you notice. Instead, we’re willing to bet that your eyes will be drawn towards the highly unusual reel setup.
Rather than sticking with a traditional 5 line, 3 row system, Quickspin have instead thrown a spanner in the works with not one, not two, but three 5 reel, four-row screens! The largest and most important screen is on the left, and this offers you 40 paylines. The two smaller screens each have 30 paylines, thus resulting in a grand total of 100.
If the promise of adventure and entertainment appeals to you, then what are you waiting for? Join the gang on their epic journey today!
Puss ‘N Boots
Puss ‘N Boots tells the story of the titular character from the hugely popular Shrek films. As soon as you load this slot up, Puss himself jumps across the screen—a nice touch from the designers at Red Tiger Gaming. Compared to The Epic Journey, Puss ‘N Boots is really straightforward. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that things don’t get much simpler than this!
The symbols keep things classic for the most part—there’s an abundance of hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds here. Still, the symbols you really want to watch out for are the swords, hat, boots and gloves, which could each land you an impressive 300 credits.
This slot’s nearly purr-fect—why not have a spin?
Click here to join Mecca Bingo.
Gala Bingo is another of the biggest names in high street bingo halls. With over 130 venues all across the country, you’re sure to have stepped foot in one at some point! The brand was launched in 1991 when 17 Coral social clubs were reopened under the Gala name, and has gone from strength to strength since then.
Gala Bingo is part of the Ladbrokes Coral Group, a massive conglomerate that includes two of our most beloved betting shop brands, as well as Gala. The company's gone through various permutations, and has a very prestigious history.
History of Ladbrokes Coral Group
Ladbrokes' roots were established as far back as the 1800s, but the company only became known as Ladbrokes in 1902. The name was inspired by a sign pointing to Ladbroke Hall that Arthur Bendir, one of the entrepreneurs behind the company, had seen on his first visit to a horse race.
Simultaneously, Joe Coral was laying the foundations for his business, setting up a comprehensive off-course sports bookmaking service.
It wasn't until the 1960s that both companies were able to 'go public', as gambling was illegal in the United Kingdom until then. Since that fateful day, though, both Coral and Ladbrokes have pushed the boundaries of gambling to enable us all to have a great time.
In 2016, the companies joined forces, and the rest is history!
Read our comprehensive review of Gala Bingo for more information.
Our favourite slots to play at Gala Bingo
7s to Burn
7s to Burn is a charming slot that takes us back to the old school. If you’re feeling a bit weary of the feature-filled behemoths which dominate the online slots scene, this game’s the one for you! Keep an eye out for the 77 Burning Wild symbol—this leads you to jackpot that you want, and is where the game gets its name from.
One of the most interesting features of 7s to Burn is the 'Gamble' button. This allows you to make a 'double or nothing' bet whenever you get a winning spin. This serves to add plenty of excitement to a slot that might at first appear to be short of bonus features compared to more modern designs.
Still, here at BingoPort we think that sometimes the old ways are the best ones. Find out if you agree—have a spin today!
Action Bank is another retro offering, this time from Barcrest—one of the biggest manufacturers of gaming machines. With its 5 reels and 20 paylines, plus the classic noughts and crosses themed symbols on show, you could be forgiven for thinking that this was a slot machine stuck in the past.
However, activate the Big Bank bonus and you could be in for a 500x multiplier. For us, Action Bank combines the best of the old school with some thoroughly modern features, so give it a go!
Don't miss out—join Gala Bingo today!
Online bingo brands
These brands might not have a presence in land-based bingo like Gala and Mecca, but their online offerings more than make up for it, and many of them are well-known high street names through their betting shops.
If you've got a thirst for bingo knowledge, you can learn more about online bingo here.
We’ll start out with one of the oldest and most successful bookmakers in the country: William Hill.
Surprisingly enough, William Hill was founded by a chap called William Hill! Way back in 1934, when gambling was actually still illegal in Britain, this enterprising fellow set up the business as a postal/telephone betting service. It was nearly 30 years until betting shops were actually legalised in 1961, but these shops were an instant success and enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity. Can you believe that in 1973 there were a whopping 14,750 betting shops in the UK?
While admittedly there aren’t quite as many betting shops knocking about these days, William Hill is still a familiar sight on the nation's high streets. You might also be interested to know that William Hill was one of the first bookmakers to launch an online service, way back in the 1990s. Once again at the forefront of gambling culture, this paid off. Will Hill is one of the nation’s favourite places to play casino games, poker, and, of course, bingo!
If this brief overview has whet your appetite, why not find out what else William Hill Bingo has to offer in our review?
Our favourite slots at Will Hill
A Night Out
We're willing to bet you love a night on the tiles—who doesn't? Yet, we're also sure that if you're reading this then you're a big fan of cosying up at home on your favourite bingo site, too. Well, those clever folks at William Hill have made it so you can actually enjoy both at the same time! This 5 reel, 20 line slot is massively popular at Will Hill for good reason: it really makes you feel like you're on a night out with your friends!
There's 5 reels and 20 paylines to choose from—all you have to do is get them spinning, and you'll be on to a winner in no time!
Firemen serve an increbily valuable role in our society—protecting us from fire, of course! But we'll let you into a secret—they're also the stars of one of the most entertaining slots around. Who could resist the sight of a man in uniform? This is another classic 5-reel, 20-payline slot. keep an eye out for those burning scatter symbols which spread across the reels—which are smartly arranged like a block of flats. have a flutter and you'll be feeling the heat in no time!
Unlike the previous two slots we've carefully picked out from William Hill, Pick Panther has a whopping 40 paylines—perfect for any high rollers out there. That being said, spins start at just 1p, so there's something for everyone here. There are also 4 bonus rounds you should pay close attention to. The Pink Panther may have specialised in mysteries, but once you've played this slot you'll see it's no mystery why we've selected it as one of our very favourites!
At the complete other end of the spectrum, at least in terms of history, is bet365. While it might seem like this site has been around forever, it was actually only founded in 2000, in a Portakabin in Stoke-on-Trent. So, who was the brains behind this gambling powerhouse? Well, it was none other than local lady Denise Coates, and she is still the majority shareholder to this day. Her father, Peter Coates, is also involved in the running of the business—you might have heard of him as the owner of Stoke City Football Club. This site really is Stoke through and through!
Even 7 years ago, over £5 billion pounds had already been wagered on bet365. From humble beginnings, a superpower has emerged!
Also, if you’re into sports betting at all, you’ll be interested to find out that bet365 was the first site to introduce the ‘cash out’ feature which is now prevalent across the board.
Their selection of online bingo’s not to be sniffed at either! With 14 rooms to choose from, why not join today?
Our favourite slots at bet365
It might not be summertime at the moment (did we even have a summer this year?), but we can all appreciate the delights of a good ice cream—all year round. Sweet treats are the name of the game in this 5-reel, 25-payline slot. The ice cream truck wild symbol is sure to bring back fond memories of your childhood, and there's an excellent Gamble Bonus Feature where you're required to guess the correct symbol to be revealed.
Our only complaint about this slot is the fact that you can't wager 99p at a time!
Smash the Pig
Another 5-reel slot, this time from IGP. This slot has a handy 'Luck Meter' to let you know how well—or otherwise—you're doing. You can win up to 20 times your stake for each pig that you get in the Pig Smashing Bonus feature, and all you have to do to activate this is to get 3 pigs on the reels! There's also the chance to win 500 times your stake if you're fortunate to spin up 5 'Smash the Pig' logos. If this happens, trust me, you'll be piggin' rich!
The Flintstones Dashing Dino
Yabba-dabba-doo! There's 1024 ways to win on this slot. Get on down to Bedrock, and you'll be greeted by all your facourite Flintstones characters: Fred, Barney Rubble, and who could forget Dino? The graphics of this gam really are something to behold, and this slot serves as a fitting tribue to one of the most iconic cartoons of all time.
Paddy Power was formed in the late 1980s from a merger of three rival Irish bookmakers. One of these bookmakers was David Power, whose name was chosen as the most suitable. ‘Paddy’ was added to reinforce the brand’s Irish identity (you may have also noticed that that they quite like the colour green!)
This brand has courted plenty of controversy in the past for its somewhat inflammatory advertising campaigns and stunts, but its bingo offering is far from offensive. In fact, it’s one of our favourite places to play! Check out the full review here.
Our favourite slots at Paddy Power
It's been a while since we've featured a slot with a progressive jackpot here at BingoPort. What better way to change that than by introducing you to Mafia Millions? With a jackpot initially funded at €10,000, but which increases at the strike of midnight every night, you won't have to resort to crime to make your money! This slot couldn't be simpler to play—it follows the classic 5-reel, 20-line format. Tht progressive jackpot won't be hanging around forever though, so have a spin today!
Fruity Burst is a new and exciting slot. To win, all you have to do is match up 5 or more of the same symbol consecutively in a horizontal or vertical line. Then, the fruits will burst, and if you're lucky then more winning combinations will fall in their places!
The minimum bet is just 10p. With a juicy maximum payout of £55,000, what are you waiting for?
George and the Dragon
St. George's Day might have been and gone, but here at BingoPort we've got time for the dragon slayer no matter what time of year it is. St. George is one of the most popular saints the world over, and it's not just the English who lay claim to his patronage!
Watch out for the castle, the horse, and of course the flag of St. George, as these are the highest value symbols. For Camelot!
Does it matter which of the biggest bingo brands I use?
Everyone’s got their preference, and every site of course has its advantages and disadvantages. However, all of these big brands are trustworthy, legitimate organisations who are committed to providing a fair and entertaining bingo experience.
Don’t forget to pay close attention to the BingoPort News Section, too, if you want to keep your finger on the bingo pulse!
Have you got any interesting facts about the history of these bingo brands? Let us know in the comments below!