Slots business wants to open bingo hall in Swindon town centre
Bosses of a slot machine gaming business in Swindon’s town centre will be hoping that soon it’ll be a full house going eyes down.
The parent company behind Shipleys slot machines in Bridge Street has put in a proposal to be allowed to take on the empty unit next door, which used to be a Caffe Nero coffee shop, but has been empty for two years.
The unit is now covered in Shipleys’ advertising material.
Gambling specialist, Amuse 2016 Ltd, which is part of the Shipleys stable has applied to be able to expand into the next unit, and create what it calls a bingo lounge.
Plans show there will still be slot machines as part of the business, but they will be situated at the back of the extra unit. The areas of both units closest to Bridge Street will be a large open area with seating. Although online bingo is played through monitors in the existing slot arcade, the company’s plans appear to be closer to a traditional bingo lounge.
Amuse 1016 Ltd’s application says: “The proposal is to sympathetically extend the existing bingo club lounge on the ground floor of no 48 into the vacant former Caffè Nero unit of no 47.
This involves merging two buildings into one on the ground floor with minimum changes on the upper floor allowing the building to be used to its full potential.
“Since the site is located in a prime location in the town centre, the expansion of amusement will make Central Swindon
As many councils, including Swindon, have policies to prevent the over-proliferation of some businesses, including betting shops and slot machine arcades, the application includes a statement from commercial property agents Fleurets, which says the empty café would not easily find another business wanting to take it on.
It says Caffe Nero moved out two years ago and the building has “essentially been in shell condition since May 2021 and could accommodate numerous retail and leisure uses.”
The agent adds: “I can confirm there has been no interest from any suitable retailers since June 2021, and no realistic prospect of this changing going forward.
“Any retailers wishing to open premises in Swindon have a number of options given the current high vacancy rate. Therefore, we need to encourage any suitable users to invest in the town and open units which create footfall and maintain the level of people using the town centre.”
Bingo halls were a fixture of British town centres from the late 20th century, when they often occupied former cinemas affected by the growth of television, until the early 2000s when they in turn suffered at the hands of online gambling.