In the world of bingo there are two main players: Gala and Mecca. That’s not to say that there aren’t other companies able to provide excellent service, it’s just that those two were amongst the first to popularise the game in the United Kingdom and their names soon became synonymous with bingo to British audiences.
You can read about Gala elsewhere on this site, so here we’re going to be taking a look at how Mecca was formed and became a leading light in the world of bingo. With both an online presence and bingo halls on the high street, it’s no exaggeration to suggest that Mecca are are genuine bingo powerhouse.
Who Are Mecca?
Whilst considered to be one of the most English of pastimes, the modern version of Bingo actually started life in America during the latter part of the ninetieth century. It was there that the British TV host, Eric Morley, likely first saw it when he was hosting the Miss World pageant, deciding to bring it back to British shores. He did so in the 1960s, hoping that it would encourage people to turn up at dance halls, where attendance had been dwindling.
Morley had been the general manager of dancing for the Mecca Leisure Group, being promoted to become a Director in 1953. He worked alongside Mecca to popularise the game of Bingo, which had gradually been introduced to the Mecca dance halls all around the United Kingdom. It was under his leadership and thanks to the bingo that it moved from being a catering and dancing company into one of the country’s biggest entertainment companies.
As the 1960s turned into the ’70s and the ’70s became the ’80s, the popularity of bingo grew and grew and Mecca’s place on the entertainment stage did so too. It led to an offer in 1990 from the Rank Organisation to buy Mecca Leisure Group for £512 million, which was rejected at first before then being accepted. It proved to a wise acquisition initially, thanks to bingo’s popularity showing no sign of abating.
Things changed in 2007, however, when the smoking ban resulted in falling attendance for bingo, leading to both Mecca and its parent company of the Rank Organisation losing money. More than two hundred people lost their jobs when Mecca closed nine bingo halls in order to cope with the slowing desire for the public to play bingo. It was only once online bingo became popular that things really began to get back on track for the company.
Where Mecca Fits into the Betting Industry
Mecca’s place in the rest of the world of betting has been reasonably assured ever since the 1990 takeover by the Rank Organisation. Rank had been founded in 1937 as a film company, but in 1996 it was absorbed into the newly formed The Rank Group plc, taking the Mecca name along with it. The company remained involved in the cinema industry until 2006, but nowadays is more commonly known as a gambling company.
The move into the world of gambling was confirmed in December of 2006 when all leisure businesses had been sold. That included the Hard Rock restaurants and cafes, with the only one kept by Rank being the casino in London that was renamed as a G Casino. If there remained any doubt then it was erased in May of 2012 thanks to the £205 million of twenty-three casinos from rival company Gala Coral.
Rank Group Plc
In the end it was only 19 casinos because of objections from the Competition Commission, the result being a £179 million spend on 19 casinos. It made Rank the United Kingdom’s largest casino operator, so the following year its online interactive gaming business, Blue Square, was sold to Betfair. The most important thing as far as the bingo side of the operation is concerned was the 2017 agreement between Rank and Mecca for Mecca to continue to use the Virtue Fusion platform for another decade.
Here are the gambling companies owned by The Rank Group plc:
- Grosvenor Casinos
- Mecca Bingo
- Rank Espana
- Rank Interactive
- Stride Gaming
What Mecca Offers Customers
You can read elsewhere on this site about Grosvenor Casinos, with this page being focussed on Mecca’s place in the gambling world. On that front, the company’s main site offers a host of bingo games that can be played at all times, with 90 ball, 80 ball and 75 ball bingo being available regularly.
Yet it’s what they’ve diversified to away from the bingo itself that many people will be interested in. They’ve long subsidised their bingo income online by offering customers the chance to play on countless different slot games. The majority of the most popular slots can be found on the Mecca homepage, as can slots that specialise in jackpots etc.
Online Casino Options
If you’re not a big fan of bingo but still fancy something a bit different from the usual slot games then you might be pleased to know that the site offers computerised versions of casino table games. The likes of roulette, blackjack and three card poker can all be found in amongst other similarly minded offerings.
Mecca Bingo Halls
If you’re more of a ‘play in person’ sort then heading on down to your local Mecca Bingo hall won’t limit your options all that much. Most of them have got plenty of gaming machines, jackpots and slots for you to keep yourself busy on in between games of bingo.