Bingo has been a staple on British high streets for decades and now that it has gone online its potential seems infinite. Let’s take a look at where it’s come from and where it’s going.

The national daily papers have featured bingo games for decades. With legislation for online bingo advertising relaxing and the smoking ban shifting people from bingo halls to their homes, the climate for online bingo is perfect. Bingo has grown into a British phenomenon.

The past four years have seen a huge leap in popularity for bingo being played online. The latest data from BingoPort.co.uk’s Bingo Trends show that the online bingo industry in the UK has turned over £300 million in revenue coming from over 400,000 players.

Bingo is perceived more as a social activity than a gambling activity and this means there is a lot of potential for online bingo rooms. While bingo has always been perceived as harmless, gambling has not, but it now seems that the negative stigma of gambling is also decreasing. This is possibly because of the introduction of the British National Lottery in 1994.

The latest British Gambling Prevalence Survey (BGPS) published earlier this year reported that for those who were surveyed the National Lottery and bingo were not classified as gambling activities. To reinforce this, those surveyed did not like answering questions about the National Lottery and bingo when they were classified as gambling.

Before 2000, research showed that bingo players were mainly working-class women who saw playing bingo as an opportunity to socialise at a relatively low cost. This grew to a much larger scale after 2000 when Britain had a massive bingo revival. The revival of bingo was probably because there was a relaxing of advertising standards for bingo and also because bingo halls were built with computerised screens and a good infrastructure like car parks, air conditioning, comfortable seats, licensed bars and good food.

After the smoking bans were enforced across Britain in 2007, the bingo halls saw a big decline in numbers of players with many preferring to play bingo online where they are free to smoke.

The Vital Statistics

The most recent BGPS reported that 9 percent of the British population had played bingo, online or offline, in the past year. It also reported that while men are more likely to gamble, twice as many women had played bingo in the last year.

Another observation is that a new type of bingo player has emerged – the exclusively online bingo player.

Bingo is also becoming more popular among younger people with 10 percent of people age 16 to 24 saying that they played in the past year. Out of this group more played online than offline and more women played than men.

So, Who Dominates the Market?

The online bingo room with the most players is Tombola. It piggy-backed on The Sun newspaper for a few years and then broke away to grow its own numbers even more, largely and effectively through television campaigns.

Then there is Mecca Bingo and Gala Bingo. Both of these bingo rooms started offline and moved online to become strong and trustworthy brands and now have good market shares.

British high street bookmakers have successfully used their established brands to try their hand in the bingo industry. This includes Ladbrokes and William Hill.

There are also some new bingo rooms who built a good online presence without coming from the high street. Some have grown to become industry leaders like Foxy Bingo, Costa Bingo, Jackpot Joy and Wink Bingo.

From the perspective of the actual bingo players, some trends have surfaced. Even though the online bingo industry is relatively new, players like to stick with what they know and generally only stay loyal to one or two brands. Most online bingo players have joined up to five or six sites but they still seem to play at only one or two of them. Even though this should make it difficult for new operators to get market share there still seems to be space for entrants. About 50 percent of online bingo players showed an inclination to change their sites of choice depending on promotions and reactivation campaigns.

While the British bingo market continues to grow with more and more online bingo sites launching every month this trend must slow down eventually. The online bingo industry is likely to slow down significantly over the next year which will result in a series of mergers and acquisitions and a few site shutdowns in the case of the smaller operators.

About the Author:

Tanya Ryder is the resident writer for Fortune Affiliates, who helps the company stay on top of industry news and trends to keep their affiliates in the know.


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