Has the Rise of Online Bingo Hurt Live Games and Traditional Values?
The rise of online bingo has been unprecedented. In the UK alone, Gambling Commission statistics show that 4.7% of the £5 billion+ wagered online now goes on bingo. Thanks to constant innovation, easy access and plenty of added value, online bingo is popular with adults across the board. However, has the rise of virtual gaming hurt live bingo halls and their traditional values? Or, is it that rising tides lift all ships? Let’s take a look…
What Made Bingo an International Icon?
Before we can answer the question of whether online bingo has helped or harmed its live counterpart, we need to establish a base. If you’ve never played bingo in a live venue, you may not know why it’s loved the world over. From the UK to the US and beyond, bingo has been a weekly pastime for decades. Why call it a pastime and not a game? Simple: because bingo is more than a game.
If we look back through the history of bingo, it’s always offered more than a way to win money. For example, during the 1800s, bingo was used as an education aid in Germany. Using the game’s fundamental format to help with multiplication, it quickly proved itself to be a something more than a game. Then, of course, you’ve got the communal aspect of bingo. Step into any live venue and you’ll see pockets of activity.
Bingo is More than a Game
For decades, particularly during WWII, bingo became a social activity. Today, this dynamic remains. Because of how things works, there’s time in between rounds (sometimes in between calls) for a chat. Beyond that, food, drink and general chit chat are common before, during and after sessions. Put simply, live bingo halls are social hubs where friends go to meet. That, in many ways, is why bingo became popular and remained so.
The final feature that made live bingo an international icon is entertainment. Yes, waiting for your numbers to be called is hugely exciting. However, we can’t ignore the calls. Over the years, bingo callers have found new and creative ways to inject something special into every session. Whether it’s jokes, witty calls or banter with the crowd, callers are the heartbeat of a live bingo game and yet another reason it’s popular with the masses.
Live Bingo vs. Online Bingo
Now we know why live bingo became a hit, let’s take a look at its online counterpart. Naturally, there are some differences. But, importantly, there are also a lot of similarities. Over the last two decades, online bingo operators have used a process of trial and error to find out what works in an online setting. As you’d expect, almost every early pioneer started with the basics.
Industry Trends Inspire Evolution
In practice, this meant offering a standard range of games i.e. 90 ball and 75 ball bingo. There were also provisions to chat with players and learn more about the game via blog posts. However, as things have evolved, more features have been added to the mix. Because bingo is part of a much larger industry, namely betting and gaming, trends have been taken from other sectors. For example, online casinos like to give away free slot spins and reload bonuses. Today, bingo sites do the same.
Sticking with online casinos, you’ll also find a range of slots and table games inside the 888ladies gaming lobby. Why? Variety. As well as breaks in between games, you may want a break from the norm every once in a while. For these times, casino games are an ideal way to keep you engaged. Beyond these features, you’ll also notice that 888ladies is available on desktop and mobile devices. Like online poker, casino and sports betting sites, flexibility and portability is paramount in today’s world.
Online Bingo Opens Up the Doors of Innovation
Once you get past the general trends, you’ll see that online bingo sites have come up with their own innovations. Alongside traditional games (90 ball and 75 ball), we’ve got dozens of unique bingo game offerings. Formats such as 5 Line Bingo bring a European vibe (Swedish specifically) to the mix, while our jackpot games give you access to bigger payouts. Additionally, members can enjoy mobile games, speed variants like Flash Fives and themed games.
Then, on top of all this, you’ve got in-game add-ons such as bonus payouts for making a house within a set number of calls. Chat box games that require you to complete tasks to win a spot prize. Finally, for something completely different, you’ve got leftfield options like Bingo Roulette, which combines the best of two popular games.
Community Keeps Bingo Together
Basically, wherever you like in the online bingo world, there’s something old, something new and something borrowed. Based on these facts, we could say that online bingo stands alone. Yes, it has elements of live bingo built into it. However, it’s not an exact copy. Therefore, one doesn’t necessarily water down the other. Of course, the counterargument is that online bingo offers so much more variety that it actually negates the need to play live. When you take into account that games run 24/7 and you only need an internet-enabled device to play, there’s no doubt online bingo is more accessible.
In some ways, live and online bingo are two separate things. In other ways, online sites provide more action and they’re more accessible. However, the thing that connects both mediums and, in turn, means they actually enhance each other is community. Regardless of where you play, community is a big part of bingo. Online operators have realised that over the years and made it a central focus of their products. At 888ladies, we have a community page as well as onsite features that allow people to connect. From here, people actually meet up in the real world and play bingo. In essence, there are no divides when it comes to community.
Online Interest Sparks Life Back into Live Bingo
It doesn’t matter if you play live or online. If you’re a bingo fan, you’re a part of a community. That means you can slip between the two mediums and always find likeminded people. In many ways, you could say that online bingo has revived interest in live games and made them better. During the 90s and early noughties, the number of live UK bingo halls dropped from over 1,000 to under 400. However, over the last 10 years, people have been heading back out into bricks and mortar venues. What’s more, new innovations have popped up.
Around 25% of players are now aged between 18 and 34. This, combined with inspiration from online games, has led to the creation of events like Bongo’s Bingo. These bingo/entertainment nights are a direct result of the game’s resurgence sparked by the internet. Therefore, while online bingo has certainly taken control in terms of popularity, it hasn’t hindered its live counterpart. Thanks to a community ethos and a willingness to cross-pollinate, bingo in all forms is in a better state than it’s ever been.