The traditional image of bingo players has always been that of the blue-rinse brigade, but things have changed over the past decade or so.
The number of traditional bingo halls in the UK has halved from the game’s heyday, with only about 400 now remaining. The game remains hugely popular, but it’s increasingly moved online.
One of the biggest factors in the move online came when the smoking ban took effect in 2007, forcing bingo players to go outside should they want to light-up. Given the demographics of the typical bingo hall customer, that was always likely to be an issue and has certainly contributed to shift online.
The major players in online bingo include long-established bingo hall owners Mecca and Gala, tabloid newspapers like The Sun and the Daily Mail and the big names in online gambling, such as William Hill bingo.
Part of online bingo’s appeal is that it’s widely regarded as ‘soft gambling’, based on its low-cost (online games typically cost just a few pence to play) and its reputation as a social event.
It’s perhaps surprising that online bingo has proven to be so popular, given that a large part of the game’s appeal has always been the social aspect. However, although playing online lacks the same human contact as a visit to the bingo hall (although some will make an occasion of it by having friends round for drinks and snacks when playing online), it’s the technology that also helped to retain the sense of community.
With many sites able to fill players' bingo cards in automatically once a game starts, it leaves players able to message each other in bingo chat rooms whilst the game is taking place without fear of missing a number.
There are even additional games within some chat rooms that you can play against your online pals. Chatting in the middle of a game in a traditional bricks and mortar venue is very much frowned upon.
There are various other benefits from playing online, with special bingo promotions sites such as Bingoport, BestOffersBingo and BingoMum aggregating special offers available.
There are also a greater variety of games online in addition to the classic 90-ball version. There are 30, 75 and 80-ball games and multiple variations thereof. There’s also a wide range of slot games with many sites to keep you entertained whilst you wait for a new game to start.
Another important factor is the ability to play as and when you want from the comfort of your own home. Indeed, in a recent survey, 7.7% of players surveyed said they play bingo on the toilet, which is certainly something that you would struggle to do in a regular bingo hall (with any decency at least).
The same report also states that 18% of respondents said they deposit more than £100 per month on bingo and 22% of players are members of more than 10 bingo sites. There is a clear passion for online bingo out there.