Bingo: a game often associated with old church halls and the slightly older generation, is undergoing a massive reinvention. In its heyday in the 1960s, there were over 14 million regular bingo players in the UK alone, and weekly bingo attendance exceeded attendance at top league football matches. Huge bingo halls started to be built to accommodate the sheer number of players; one of the biggest bingo operators estimated that by the mid-1960s over 150,000 people were visiting their bingo halls on a daily basis.
Decline of Bingo
By the late 1990s however, bingo was dying. Bingo halls were closing as other forms of mass entertainment became more popular:
- 1994 the National Lottery was launched, offering much bigger prizes for smaller investments
- 2007 (2006 in Scotland) the smoking ban came in, impacting the bingo-playing demographic disproportionately
- Cheap flights took a massive chunk of those who would go to coastal towns to play during the holidays
- More TV channels and cable TV
As fewer people played, there was less money available for investment and prizes, so fewer people played, leading to a vicious circle and sounding the death knell for bingo.
A Digital Revival
The early 2000s saw a great deal on investment in online casinos, with a primary focus on online casinos and slots. The resounding success of this, which has seen the market grow from under US$60 billion in 2019, to an expected US$158 billion by 2028, eventually led to bingo making the transition online. This has been far more successful than initially anticipated; many critics of this, and one of the main reasons the industry was slow to invest in online bingo, was that bingo is inherently a sociable activity, and there were fears this could not be emulated in an online setting.
However, the biggest draw of bingo has been the rush of winning, and advances in technology have meant that bingo is still sociable, even when played remotely. In fact, the benefits of being able to play bingo online have made it one of the fastest growing sectors of the market. Operators have been able to lower their costs and offer even more prizes and competitions for players, further increasing their appeal and attracting more and more players. The very vicious circle that led to the decline of bingo halls was the virtuous circle that allowed its online counterpart to flourish.
How to get started playing bingo
With so many options out there, different operators, different prizes, and different types of bingo, it can be difficult to know where to start.
1. Bingo Operator
Heart Bingo offers free games, promotions, prizes galore, and a social aspect to the game, as well as offering online security, fast and secure payments, and is signed up to responsible iGaming legislation, ensuring players have fun and are safe at all times.
2. Bingo Rules
When playing online, players will need to choose the number of tickets they buy. The more they buy, the more chances they have to win (but the more they will spend). The game starts when the first number is called. Online, players can set the system to cross the number off for them, but it’s still exciting to keep up with it and know how many numbers are still needed for that all important win. There will often be smaller prizes for lines, and bigger prizes for a full house, and it is worth learning all the number names.
3. Bingo Schedule
Bingo requires a large number of players, so games will have set times to start. In the online world, games run all day, every day, and players will not have to wait long to find a game that’s ready for them.
4. Bingo Rooms
Each game takes place in a Bingo Room, and players will click to enter. Each game will offer something slightly different, from 75 ball bingo, 90 ball bingo, different themes and options for all players. Some games will offer progressive jackpots, and there will be games to suit all budgets. There is no skill required, so beginners and pros will mix freely in all rooms.
5. Bingo offers and rewards
New players should always take advantage of the welcome incentives offered by operators, as they give the opportunity to try out various games without risk. It does often mean that any winnings cannot be withdrawn without making a deposit (it is always worth checking out the fine print) but it is a great way to get started. Most operators will offer a variety of other promotions and offers for players, such as BOGOF on certain games, as well as free tickets, and events and guaranteed wins. There is often also a VIP section for loyal players, with exclusive access to rooms and games.
6. Bingo Chat
The beauty of online bingo is the freedom to chat and meet other players. In bingo halls, silence during the games is required, but the opposite is true of the online world. With the system crossing off numbers, players don’t have to worry about missing their number, and can enjoy the social aspect of the game. Many operators will have welcome rooms for new players and will have a host who is able to answer questions and help keep the conversation flowing, even offering quizzes and games with real money prizes available.