Entrepreneur who says bingo is his life plans to breathe new life into the Empire at Wisbech

PUBLISHED: 17:34 18 August 2009 | UPDATED: 09:13 02 June 2010

keith waterman who has taken the lease on the empire theatre in wisbech

keith waterman who has taken the lease on the empire theatre in wisbech

ENTREPRENEUR Keith Waterman who says bingo is my life has taken over the Empire in Wisbech following the retirement of Norman Jacobs. There is still a stigma about places like this being old fashioned and we want to change that bringing new people in a

keith waterman who has taken the lease on the empire theatre in wisbech

ENTREPRENEUR Keith Waterman who says "bingo is my life" has taken over the Empire in Wisbech following the retirement of Norman Jacobs.

"There is still a stigma about places like this being old fashioned and we want to change that bringing new people in as well as our regular players," he said.

Mr Waterman, who already runs club in Bury St Edmunds and Thetford, said today: "Bingo is my life and I still believe there is a future for it. By modernising this club I think I have a good chance of success."

He said: "I have always wanted to open up in Wisbech and I must say I have been very impressed with the friendly welcome I have been given over the last couple of weeks."

With plans for refurbishment and lots of ideas for attracting first timers Mr Waterman is keen to inject the 1930s building, which will still be owned by Mr Jacobs, with a new lease of life.

Mr Waterman's family has been involved with bingo since the 1960s and he joined the business in 1974, firstly as a checker and caller. His parents are still partners in the business.

He readily admits the drastic effect of the smoking ban which drove many players away.

"We all dipped then and we had to close Brandon down last year after 45 years as a direct result of the smoking ban," he said.

The popularity of online bingo has also taken its toll but Mr Waterman believes it is mainly younger people who want to play the game that way. For more seasoned players socialising and meeting up with friends remains an important factor.

Mr Waterman is planning to refurbish the bar and catering area of the Empire and also the stage.

He added: "At the moment this is bingo 1960s style and rather old fashioned. We will gradually make changes.


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