The UK has always been a nation of bingo lovers. Ever since the game -then known as beano – spread across Europe and then to the US before it made its mark in the UK after WWII, bingo has become something of a national game. Indeed, the 1960s were considered the industry’s heyday with 1,000 bingo halls around the country pulling in more than one million players each month.
Unfortunately, a decline in popularity throughout the late eighties and nineties meant the closure of venues and job costs across the sector. With young people turning to seemingly “cooler” betting games, bingo was left out in the cold until the internet stepped in with a shining light. As it’s done for a number of industries, the internet has revived the UK’s love for bingo in more ways than one.
Online Bingo Sparks a Renaissance
Naturally, given that we now consume most of our entertainment online, virtual bingo has taken off in the last decade. From free play games and rollover jackpots to bonuses and unique ways to pay, online bingo is now awash with options. Indeed, one of the online industry’s biggest draws is its affordability. Although bingo has traditionally been considered a “casual” betting game with low entry fees, internet sites have taken it to a new level.
For example, mobile bingo operator mFortune allows new players to sign-up and play their first games for free. Known in the industry as a “welcome bonus”, this deal essentially credits new players with a £5 gift card that they can then use to play free bingo games on the site. On top of that, regular players can take advantage of additional freebies in the form of BOGOF deals, bonus games and even cash back.
Lower Barriers Make Entry Easier
“Welcome” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by WaywardShinobi
This dynamic has not only made online bingo an attractive option for modern players, but it’s made the game accessible to new players. One of the biggest barriers to entry in any betting activity is the stakes. By reducing the size of these potential barriers, online operators have made it easier for players to join the action and, unsurprisingly, that’s translated into commercial success for the industry.
According to the UK Gambling Commission’s 2016 review, iGaming (online betting) is now the largest part of the UK betting sector with a gross gambling yield of £4.5 billion. Contributing to this 33% market share was bingo, with revenue totalling £153 million. However, it’s not just the online operators that have benefited from this bingo renaissance. Yes, their sites and innovations have helped their own interests, but live bingo is also now starting to flourish.
“Bingo” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gerry Dincher
Buoyed by the online industry, companies such as Rebel Bingo and Bongo’s Bingo are hosting live events with a twist. Combining bingo with everything from live stage shows and DJs to outlandish costumes, these events are the perfect encapsulation of the game’s hip new image.
Indeed, with events now taking place in major cities across the country, including Liverpool, London, Manchester and Birmingham, it’s clear that bingo has once again won a place in our hearts. Although today’s industry looks a little different to the one that flourished in the sixties, it still has the game’s core dynamics and in 2017 we should see this national treasure continue to grow.