It can trace its roots back to 16th century Italy and a lottery-style game known as Lo Giuoco del Lotto D'Italia; today, bingo is one of the most popular gambling activities in the world. Indeed, once the game's rules were formalised by US toy salesman Edwin S. Lowe in 1930, bingo became a post-war staple for British adults.
Seen as a way to bring communities together, it eventually became a commercial enterprise thanks to the Betting and Gambling Act of 1960. Throughout the seventies and eighties the bingo industry was booming in Britain, with more than 20,000 employees working inside 800+ bingo halls. A lack of interest from the younger generation caused the industry to slip into decline during the late eighties and by the nineties the number of bingo locations had dropped to 400.
Fortunately, the industry has rebounded over the last two decades thanks to the Internet. Today, the bingo industry (live and online) produces a Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) of £82.3 million per annum thanks to more than three million players. In fact, as well as online bingo becoming a burgeoning industry in its own right, it's also helped increase the number of live bingo halls in the UK.
Before you consider the advantages of playing online bingo, it's worth comparing the virtual game to its brick and mortar counterpart. Perhaps the most important difference between a live game and an online game is the way in which the balls are drawn. In a bingo hall a caller will pick out numbered balls from a drum. In contrast, online bingo games are powered by a random number generator (RNG).
Essentially a computer algorithm that produces random outcomes, RNGs not only ensure a completely fair game, but a more efficient one. Moreover, because RNGs can handle multiple games at once, it means online bingo sites can offer more games to more players in a more efficient manner. The upshot of this is that bingo sites can afford to offer cheaper games, larger prizes and special bonuses, simply because of the large volume of players they can handle.
Online bingo now accounts for 29% of the iGaming industry's betting activity in Britain. To give you an insight into why online bingo has become extremely popular, here's an overview of its main advantages.
Online bingo brings the game to the masses in the most convenient way possible. Instead of travelling to a local bingo hall, online bingo can be played from the comfort of your own home.
In a live bingo hall you'll typically find two main games: 90-ball bingo and 75-ball bingo. Naturally, inside an online bingo site you'll also find these formats. However, you'll also find a plethora of additional betting options, including short format games such as 50-ball and 30-ball bingo.
Technology makes it possible for online bingo sites to offer multiple games at the same time. As a result, online bingo platforms are able to offer cheaper games. According to NationalBingo.co.uk, the average cost of a live bingo session in Britain is £20 (game tickets, food and drink).
In contrast, the average cost of online bingo can be less than £5 thanks to game tickets starting from an affordable £0.01. Moreover, thanks to bonuses, users can often enjoy bingo for free. Whether it's a welcome offer or a loyalty reward, online bingo players can participate in free games and win real cash prizes.
The final advantage of playing online bingo is that you can win jackpots in excess of £100,000. Although live bingo halls offer national games with large jackpots, they aren't able to match to Internet's largest prizes. Thanks to progressive jackpot games, a small percentage of each player's buy-in is added to the communal jackpot to create some impressive prizes.
For example, if a game ticket costs £1, the operator will take 10% of this total (£0.10) and add it to the progressive jackpot. This takes place thousands of times every hour, which means jackpots can reach hundreds of thousands and, sometimes, millions of pounds.
At its core, bingo has always been a social game and that hasn't changed online. Although face-to-face communication is absent, players can still chat and interact in a variety of ways. For example, in-game chat boxes allow players to talk as they play, while forums and external chat rooms allow people to discuss everything from their latest wins to current events.
Additionally, thanks to a series of on-site quick links, players can now post their experiences to social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Online bingo is an industry that's literally buzzing. From instant play games to mega jackpots, there's something for everyone in the virtual bingo area.