CANVEY’S former Rio Bingo Hall will reopen in the new year under new management, it has been confirmed.

Excitement built on social media last week after Google listed AJ’s Bingo as opening on December 15 on the site of Rio.

Owners have now confirmed bingo will definitely be returning to the hall, however it is unlikely that it will open until the new year due to delays behind the scenes.

Rio Bingo Hall was sold in May and has remained closed since.

At the time, it was confirmed to the Echo that it had been purchased by a group of families living on the island.

Owner Paul Austin said: “I am very excited in getting the doors open and starting to see people enjoy a much-loved game of bingo which has been in this club since 1976.

“I want to get it up and running without any more delays, which have been out of my control, so as soon as an exact date is known I will say.

“We will be doing food too and there will be a bar as well.”

As part of the project, an unused part of the building has been converted into a synagogue, but the main bingo hall was available to rent.

AJ’s Bingo is named after Paul’s son, who they nearly lost in birth.

It is the family’s first owned bingo hall, but they have years of experience within bingo.

Mr Austin said it will start as paper only due to the feedback they have received from past customers.

He added: “I have worked in bingo for some of the big chains and was in bingo for more than ten years. I have always wanted to open my own little hall.

“The reason why I wanted to take on this is since Covid, a large number of have closed their doors and the social elements with the community have vanished.

“We want to bring this back. I don’t agree with companies closing at a drop of a pin, and not thinking about the effect it has on the community.

“This is our first club, and hopefully once it takes off, it runs smoothly.”

The building initially started out as a community cinema in the 1930s, prior to the Second World War.