It will be eyes down for a full house in the town centre now a gambling company has been given the go-ahead to expand its suite and create what it calls a Bingo lounge.

Shipleys runs a gambling slot machine parlour at 48 Bridge Street, which is next door to an empty unit on the corner of Queens Street, which used to be used by coffee chain Caffe Nero but has been unused for more than two years.

Now most of the front of both units will be joined to create a large Bingo lounge for the playing of online bingo.

Although the players will be watching the balls drawn and a bingo caller on screens around the lounge, and not on stage as was traditional, the setup will be a large open area with seating and tables, recreating as far as possible the experience of playing in a bingo hall.

There will still be gaming machines, but they will be restricted to a much smaller area to the rear of the new unit on the corner.

“There is an opportunity to feed into the existing and future economy which will contribute to the regeneration of central Swindon," said a Shipleys' spokesperson.

“The opportunity to offer commercial and employment generating development that contributes to the continued economic prosperity of the borough.”

The borough council has policies in place which try to restrict the proliferation of gambling establishments in the borough, particularly the town centre.

But Shipleys said the new venture would not increase the number of such businesses in the area: “The proposal will replace an established adult gaming centre operating from part of these premises.

“Therefore, the number of betting and gambling outlets in the area will remain at four and will not increase to five. Furthermore, the bingo use has distinct characteristics.”

While the proposal has been approved, it’s clear Swindon Borough Council was a touch reluctant. The planning officer's report said: “The authority considers it regrettable that this unit would not be retained [as a café] or made to a retail unit to promote some diversity in the immediate area, and unfortunate that the proposals would add to a concentration of gambling uses within this area of Bridge Street.

“However, on balance, the change of use of the ground floor unit to a bingo lounge is acceptable in planning terms. This is on the basis that; it would not result in the loss of an existing retail unit nor worsen the existing retail situation in this location.”