What does the word “bingo” conjure up in your mind? Chances are you think of a group of older women, maybe in hairnets, meeting up a couple of times a week, dabbers at the ready, for a session at their local bingo hall. There’s also probably a camp bingo caller in the mix too, possibly with a sparkly jacket, and a thick pall of cigarette smoke hanging in the air.
But this would be a view that’s as out of date as public smoking. Today, bingo has had something of a re-birth and a whole new generation are starting to see what a fun game it is to play.
The big difference, of course, is that the bingo player of 2019 is more likely to be enjoying the game from the comfort of their own home thanks to the inexorable rise of online bingo. In research carried out by YouGov it was found that by far the biggest age group playing online bingo today are the 25 to 34 year olds with 68% of them being women and 32% men.
It was also found that mobile phones are by far the most common method of playing online bingo, even more than tablets, and this fact may also be key to why younger people are starting to play more and more. Because, while it might be a cliché that young people live through their phones, there’s certainly some basis of truth to this statement. So, bingo operators have invested a great deal of time and money into making sure that their sites are mobile friendly and work perfectly on smaller screen formats.
While the technology has undoubtedly had a major influence on the adoption of online bingo as a fun pastime for so many young people, this is only part of the story. To dig a little deeper you need to start looking at the brands themselves and just how they manage to get this new demographic to play online bingo.
One of the key motivating factors has to be the branding. Unlike online casinos which tend to be fairly serious and male-orientated, bingo sites are often cheekier and more fun. And if the branding’s fun, it stands to reason that the time you spend on there is going to be too. So, through everything from TV to sponsorship of popular TV programmes, the online bingo companies are already sending out the message that this could be a fun way to spend your time.
Once you get on the sites themselves, you’ll usually be greeted with bright, vibrant graphics which also carry the message that this is a fun place to be. Because video games are so popular and have been for almost as long as the current generation of online bingo players can remember, these have also had a big influence on how sites look and feel. This means players who visit them immediately feel at home and also have an almost intuitive knowledge of how to play the games, a great head-start to have before they take the plunge.
Novelty and excitement are also very important elements of any successful online bingo sites so they’re always introducing new games and different ways to play them which is a great way to get players returning again and again to see what’s changed. Add to this, great soundtracks to lots of the games along with dynamic graphics and it all contributes to the huge success of the sector.
Ironically, the growing popularity of the online game is also having an effect of the real bingo halls. Although there are far fewer of these today than there were in the game’s heyday, many still exist. The same YouGov research that we mentioned earlier found that 28% of online bingo players also go to live bingo, compared with 6% of the rest of the population. Although they might find the speed of the game considerably slower than the exciting pace of the online version, there are obviously lots of aspects that do appeal. One of these is the social aspect of the game which is also something that the online sites work to foster with chat rooms as well as a strong presence of social media.
It’s also well worth noting another phenomenon that’s helping to give bingo a cool reputation that it never really had before. More and more nightclubs are starting to put on bingo nights which are always heavy on irony and camp. Different examples include drag nights or ones which feature DJs and the prizes can be anything from bottles of prosecco to inflatable sharks. There are also some very inventive ways of announcing the numbers including using confetti cannons. One of the biggest names in this new generation of bingo promoters is Dabbers. Unsurprisingly, they started out in that capital of ironic cool, Shoreditch, and now look set to start taking over the country, venue by venue.
This is likely to come full circle with many clubbers discovering bingo for the first time and wanting to play it for themselves online. It’s rapidly becoming a self-perpetuating circle of bingo fever.
But one thing that the online bingo companies can be sure about is that things come in to and go out of fashion quicker than ever these days. To keep players interested they need to be constantly introducing new games and adding new features. But, to judge by their success to date, this is something that they’re pretty good at already.
As to what we can expect from them in the future, virtual reality seems to be becoming ever more sophisticated, not to mention accessible. So maybe the next big thing is going to be virtual bingo halls and bingo club nights – we’ll just have to wait and see!