What was gambling like in the 1980’s?

The 1980’s

After the legalised of gambling in 1961, the demand for bingo halls, casinos and other gambling venues quickly developed in Britain. Over the pond in the US, the arrival of Howard Hughes to Las Vegas saw legal mega casinos being developing in the Gambling City for the first time.

In the ‘80’s, gambling movies took western cinemas by storm. Many from this era with remember classics such as Tom Cruise’s Rain Man (1988), The Color of Money (1986) and heist-thriller House of Games (1987). These films portrayed the 80’s gambling scene as glamorous and exciting, and with new super sized venues and mass-marketing techniques this industry reached new levels of success during this decade.

Gambling venues in Britain did not always have this glamorous image, as rules on gambling were still tight after its legalisation and it took some time to lessen these restrictions.

By the end of the 60’s, businesses were allowed to develop commercial casinos with gambling tables. Then significant changes of legislation in the 1980’s paved the way for the venues with comfortable seating, TV sets, and refreshments.

Within a few decades, gambling has developed from a stigmatised activity carried out in private into a popular, often sociable, pastime enjoyed by people in purpose built venues across the country. It is now estimated that 73% of adults participate in some form of gambling in the UK, with the industry achieving a revenue of around 4.5 billion in the last year alone.

First purpose-built bingo halls spring up in the UK

Following the legalisation of gambling, bingo is one activity that quickly gained acceptance and popularity. In the 1960’s, many cinemas and old theatres were repurposed into bingo halls.

The Odeon Theatre was the one to set this trend, after showing their final screening in 1961, they transitioned into a bingo club known as the Top Rank Bingo Club. Many other theatres then began to follow suit as the failing Gaumont Theatre shut, making its debut as a Top Rank Bingo and Social Club in 1963.

In the two decades that followed, commercial spaces around the country were redeveloped into bingo halls. However, it was not until December 1988 when the first purpose-built bingo hall was constructed.

The venue was developed in the Cardiff town of Castle, originally named Castle Bingo the hall was Castle’s premier venue for over 26 years.

Having recently been refurbished and renamed New Canton, the club now has a luxurious feel with a TV wall, bars and booths and a range of new state of the art games machines. The New Canton just one example of the many purpose-built bingo venues across the country, each of which create a sociable and relaxed environment for bingo fans.

While bingo halls were really the only place to play a variety of bingo games in the 1980’s, the development of smartphones and PCs in the last couple of decades has given bingo players much more choice on when, where and how they play the game. Many now play bingo games online through bingo websites and online casinos.

It’s convenience isn’t online bingo’s only benefit, there are many options to try new bingo sites that give players the chance to start playing games without putting their own cash in.

The online bingo industry is highly competitive, with the number of operators sky-rocketing in recent years. In order to maintain a competitive edge, websites have developed a whole range of promotions and welcome offers in order to attract and retain customers.

Aside from no deposit, another very common promotion is first deposit. This is where the bingo operator will match your initial deposit up to a certain value. Other promotions include refer-a-friend offers, loyalty points and re-deposit bonuses.

With such a huge range of bingo websites and promotions, affiliate sites have developed to help consumers understand offers, find news games and locate the best deals current online.

The number of gambling fans in the UK grew rapidly in the 1980’s, as there became more freedom in what licenced premises could offer as well as an improvement in the availability and design of venues around the country.

But what was gambling like in the US at this time? Well, the 1980’s was also a significant period in time for the country’s gambling hotspot – Las Vegas, also known as the Gambling City and Sin City (due to its reputation for adult attractions).

Las Vegas undergoes large scale redevelopment

Once a trade stop route between California and Mexico, Las Vegas has been transformed into an adult playground and now attracts millions of each year with its 24 hour casinos, luxury hotels and entertainment venues.

The 80’s was a difficult time for Vegas in some respects, with political struggles and a declining economy. Tragedy also struck in 1980, when the MGM Grand caught fire and resulted in the deaths of 80 people.

However, with the development of the hotel The Mirage, the city’s reputation began to turn around. With a lavish five-storey waterfall, 50-foot volcano and world-class chef, this hotel bought visitors to the city in their droves.

All of these visitors coming to the city for its luxury accommodation needed entertaining and The Mirage, as one of the most expensive hotel-casino developments in history, had plenty of choice for that. The hotel featured a 1000 square foot casino, with a whole host of games machines and tables.

This ‘80’s development paved the way for the construction of many over grand casinos and hotels and regenerated Las Vegas’ gambling scene.

Visitors to Vegas now come from all around the world to enjoy poker, bingo and many other forms of gambling and entertainment.

The 1980’s is a significant time in history for the gambling industry for both the UK and overseas in the US. This decade saw gambling reach a new level of popularity in the western world and changed many people’s attitudes to something that was once criminalised. And many gambling operators explore the online market, we can expect this industry to see many more changes in the years ahead.