Today, if you suggested someone played the game of bingo, they’d probably automatically think of it as being an online game – one of the many thousands we have available to play at the swipe of our smartphone screen or the click of a mouse.
However, it’s not that long since online bingo didn’t even exist – the first sites appeared in the late 1990s. Before that, if you wanted to play bingo, you’d have to travel to a bingo hall in your local town (if it had one), setting aside at least a couple of hours for the trip there and back just to play a few games. Today, bingo’s something that you can play while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil – the games online run on a 24-hour schedule, so there’s always one just about to start.
Time for a tea or coffee? Then you’ve got time to play online bingo!
What’s the advantage in playing online?
As well as the convenience of playing online, with the fact that you can play bingo at any time, online bingo is much better value than the bingo hall version. For a start, the different sites offer welcome bonuses to new players – a 200% bonus on top of whatever you put in as a first deposit into an account is pretty much the industry standard. Others, like 32red, offer even more generous bonuses – click here for more info. As well as starting you off with a bonus, the sites also run plenty of free games in their schedules, and though the prizes are generally smaller, the fact that you can play for free whenever you want has to be an incentive to stay with a site.
The prizes for online bingo can be massive – and with people joining online progressive jackpot games of bingo, the potential to win a huge amount is becoming more common. Just as with big online slots wins, the winning players in an online bingo game never know when they might strike it lucky. There are never any guarantees of a win, but it adds a certain exciting edge whenever you’re playing a big progressive game.
How has the game changed?
When you play online bingo, you don’t have to do any real work to win. Unlike the traditional version of the game, there’s no need to keep up with the number calls to mark off matching numbers on your cards. The software is designed to do this for you, via the autodaub function. This makes for a more relaxing playing experience. As there’s no stress in keeping up with the number calls, you can just sit back and watch the game progress, chatting to other players who are in the same game as you in the site chat rooms or doing something completely different – such as playing another game on the site.
The sense of community that you have in a traditional game of bingo, with everyone gathering to play in the same place, is definitely something that the online bingo sites wanted to continue, even though people would be playing in their own homes, or wherever they happen to have an internet connection. The online chat rooms on the bingo sites provide that community feeling, and, in fact, make it even easier to mix playing with chatting, even if messages have to be typed out instead of spoken to one another.
What’s happening to land-based bingo?
Although you’d think that few people would choose to go to a traditional bingo hall now that there’s the option to play online, there are still plenty of bingo halls in operation. Perhaps it’s the older generation, who see the bingo as a reason to go out and meet other people, and who aren’t quite internet-savvy enough to want to play online, who provide the majority of the custom. Most bingo halls sell food and drinks as well as run the games, so there’s definitely time to socialise, although it’s away from the gaming action.
So, even though you’d imagine there’s a limited future for traditional bingo halls, it may take a few more years before they become completely out of step with people’s tastes. And to prevent that happening, some bingo halls in the UK are adding electronic bingo rooms, where people can opt to play on iPad style tablet devices and not have to keep up with the number calls themselves. That way, like with the online game, they can chat to other players while the game goes on.
You can see where each form of bingo has borrowed from the other in order to evolve and still appeal to the game’s players, but it’s only really possible to imagine a future with the online game becoming ever more popular as people focus on doing almost everything in life online. Bingo halls may be here for a while yet, but what about in 20 years’ time?