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When you play bingo online, the basic principles of the game remain the same – you deposit money for bingo cards (also called tickets) and hope your numbers get dabbed – but gameplay of course takes place via downloadable clients or through instant-play games on desktop browsers.
Now, a new wave of mobile bingo rooms also allows players to hit full houses on their tablets or smartphones at the swipe of a finger.
With so many online bingo providers out there and more new bingo sites going live each year there's plenty of choice: here's a look at some factors to consider before picking a bingo operator and signing up for an account.
Choosing the right online bingo site depends largely on personal preference. But whichever site you choose, make sure you look at the licensing credentials of the operator. All established sites should hold a licence from a recognised authority such as the UK Gambling Commission, and it's best to steer clear of any platform without this seal of approval.
With a proper licence comes a guarantee that the RNGs (Random Number Generators) governing the draw of the bingo balls are above board. Every RNG should be regularly tested by an external independent auditor like eCOGRA (e-Commerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance) or TST (Technical Systems Testing). You can usually find certificates awarded by testing bodies in PDF format on reputable online bingo sites.
The beauty of online bingo is that there's so much choice available for real-money players. While British-style 90-ball bingo is the most common form of the game found in bricks and mortar bingo halls, a solid online site should also offer 75-ball, 50-ball and 30-ball games. When checking out a bingo site, explore its homepage to find out its main software provider (or providers).
With somewhere in the region of 80 mainstream bingo software providers on the market, it's tricky to know which is best. But the benchmark is undoubtedly Dragonfish, the software giant that powers 888's casino games. Dragonfish is a large provider of online bingo to around 60 of the industry's big guns, and its platform includes free-play bingo games, 75-ball and 90-ball bingo, and a no-download app as standard.
Lobbies packed with online slots, scratchcards and progressive games are an established feature of online casinos. And for regular online bingo players, it's typical to take a quick spin on the slots during the downtime between bingo rounds.
That's why leading bingo sites tend to feature a range of online slots, accessed via the bingo page, while some developers tie up their popular slots titles with their bingo offerings. Slots giant SG Gaming, for example, has designed a bingo game based on its popular slot title, Rainbow Riches.
In addition, some software developers provide 'Casino in Bingo' apps which allow quick-play table options like roulette and blackjack to be played between bingo rounds.
Mobile gambling is the biggest innovation in casino technology at the moment, and its convenience and accessibility has led to a new generation of sofa surfers betting at home. Bingo is no different, and iOS and Android users can find a range of bingo games adapted for their devices via their respective App Stores.
Operating in the same way as desktop sites, mobile bingo apps are often written in Java. Because most mobile bingo sites are linked to the site's desktop clients, players can usually enjoy the same level of security and RNGs.
Bingo enthusiasts won't always find the same number of games on mobile as that available via desktop, but developers are constantly working to adapt popular titles to the brave new world of smartphone gaming.
All major online bingo sites are linked to recognised payment processors such as VISA, MasterCard, Maestro, Skrill and PayPal, which means you can benefit from two layers of security when depositing cash and withdrawing winnings.
As well as having the benefit of a major financial institution handling your money, all licensed bingo sites in the UK must comply with various regulations designed to protect your cash, including segregating player funds from operating funds.
A reliable (and easy to claim) sign-up bonus is an essential for every decent online bingo site. As a rule, most sites will offer you at least double your first deposit up to a certain limit.
'Play through' enough bingo games in the allocated time, and the free cash will usually be triggered. Additionally, you should look at any extra rewards on offer, including free games, progressive jackpots and loyalty bonuses. The more freebie options you have, the sweeter the victory.
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