A Hartlepool bingo hall is facing an uncertain future after 50 years in the town.
Carlton Bingo, in York Road, has begun a consultation with workers as bosses consider the future trading options of the club.
The company has stressed that no decision has been made yet.
A spokesman for Carlton told the Mail: “I can confirm that we have started a consultation process with employees at the club looking at the future trading of the bingo club but, at this stage, no final decisions have been taken.”
The club is one of 13 operated by Carlton Bingo, many of them based in Scotland.
The nearest to Hartlepool is at Whitley Bay in North Tyneside.
High Street bingo clubs have experienced a decline in recent years leading to the closure of a number of halls around the country and others looking at ways to modernise and adapt.
The growth of online gaming, particularly via smartphones, and the effect of the smoking ban have been reported to be largely responsible.
An annual Gambling Commission report from earlier this year stated: “Bingo has seen the greatest decline in people playing in person from 2016 (71%, a 14 percentage point decrease from 2016), which coincides with the decline in the number of bingo premises in the last 12 months.”
The York Road building now occupied by Carlton Bingo started life as a Regal Cinema in 1936 and was designed by renowned cinema architect William Illingworth.
In 1955 it changed its name to the Essoldo cinema and has been a bingo hall since 1968.
On its website, Carlton Bingo describes the club as “Hartlepool’s friendliest local bingo.”
It has a licensed bar and a bistro and promotes its accessibility due to buses that stop outside and its closeness to Hartlepool town centre.
The club is listed as operating seven days a week although is closed on Monday and Wednesday nights.