How the Internet Has Helped Reinvent and Revitalize Bingo
The game was seemingly nearly dead in 1999 – but the past two decades have changed all that
What was the world like back in 1999? Do you remember? It’s an interesting question because the truth is, modern life has changed beyond all recognition as a result of the Internet and the services offered by modern technology. Bingo used to be a game only enjoyed by pensioners in Bingo Halls, many of which were closing their doors around this time. The younger generations seemingly had no interest in the game, and the number of players was falling rapidly. It seemed as if Bingo might disappear completely soon.
One statistic of interest is that during the mid-1960s, more than fourteen million people were registered as Bingo Players at Bingo halls across the United Kingdom. That’s more people than were attending England’s top-flight football games, which seems almost unbelievable today. And yet, despite this, by 1999 the number had dropped to less than two million – that’s a drop of almost 90%.
How Did This Happen?
Whole books have been written that attempt to analyze the reasons for the decline of Bingo. One reason that is most often noted is that the game didn’t change much over the decades. It remained pretty much the same for almost forty years, which made it hard for the game to attract new players.
Another important change was the increase in competition for people’s time and attention. In Bingo’s heyday during the 1960s, there just wasn’t as much to do as there is today. Numerous new leisure activities have sprung up, cheap flights have enabled people to go abroad rather than visit seaside towns with bingo halls, and television really took off during the 1990s, with Satellite and Cable services delivering hundreds of channels rather than the four or five people had previously been used to.
The Resurrection – Thanks to the Internet
And yet, despite the decline we’ve just described, Bingo is now vastly more popular than it was in 1999. There are millions of active players, and while this revival has certainly taken some time to evolve fully, it has surprised many people within the gambling industry.
Many people who start off playing Bingo online will eventually decide to go and visit a nearby Bingo hall too. Sure, most of those millions of players are playing online, but live Bingo has still benefited from this revival in popularity.
To say that online gambling has been a success would be a huge understatement – the first online casinos weren’t fantastic – some were very shady and took a long time to pay winnings if they did at all. But it wasn’t long before regulators got involved and secured the online gaming market, resulting in the safe environment that online Bingo players in most countries enjoy today.
But Bingo just wasn’t the focus of most early online gambling sites - its low popularity at the time meant that investors were mainly interested in online casinos and sportsbooks rather than Bingo sites. Some savvy entrepreneurs spotted this hole in the market, though. They developed fantastic online bingo software that would soon cause an avalanche of investment in the online bingo sector. Every major gambling company now offers online Bingo in every country where they operate. If that’s not a huge improvement, I don’t know what is!
Why Was Bingo So Successful Online?
Online Bingo wasn’t really the focus of early online gambling sites because many people believed Bingo to be a social game, and this aspect would be lost if the game moved online. It turns out they were wrong – the social aspect could be moved online, and it wasn’t Bingo’s biggest attraction anyway. It is the dopamine hit of winning that entices people to online gambling sites, and Bingo is no different from roulette, blackjack, or poker in this way. By including an online chat function in Bingo sites, players could still converse while the game took place. And with the computer automatically marking their cards for them, players could buy more tickets than ever before and still keep up with the action.
We are likely going to see virtual reality bingo very soon – companies are definitely working on it. It has taken two decades, but it seems that Bingo is now ready to take off into the stratosphere once again.