On 27 June 2021, the UK celebrated its inaugural “National Bingo Day”. It was a day to celebrate one of the most popular British pastimes that have brought friends and communities together through the generations. However, if Google Trends data is anything to go by, these communities are likely to have to gravitate online to survive.
According to Google Trends, “how to play virtual bingo” was one of its most searched “how to” search queries during H1 2020. Online bingo trends have certainly surged in recent years, particularly in the British iGaming market. In the 2019/20 financial year, the bingo industry generated a CGY worth $1.25 billion, with only two-thirds ($878 million) of this derived from land-based bingo resorts.
All of which suggests the online bingo industry is catching up in a rapid way. It’s the flexibility that online bingo operators have to gamify and vary prizes up for grabs online that’s continuing to take custom away from land-based bingo halls to online operators. In addition, lucrative welcome bonuses are increasingly awarded to new sign-ups with the UK’s leading online bingo communities. At Buzz Bingo, players must deposit and play just £10 to win an additional £60 to spend on bingo and slot games. There is also free bingo daily and “penny bingo” daily for Buzz Bingo members, providing a cost-effective form of entertainment.
In the US, the online bingo industry is also experiencing a significant surge. Having generated revenues of just $800 million in 2009, just over a decade later it is yielding over $4 billion annually. Much of this is due to the increasing accessibility of online bingo games via smartphone and tablet. This accessibility has also brought the game of bingo to a new, younger demographic, with more millennials and Gen Z players lining the online bingo rooms of communities across the states.
As the US economy inches increasingly closer to a cashless society, the online bingo scene is working hard to give players multiple payment methods to deposit and have fun. E-wallets are some of the latest methods that make it easy to move funds from bank accounts without having to visit an ATM. In addition, e-wallets make it easier for people to set aside dedicated “bingo budgets”. That’s because e-wallets only contain the money you fund them, once that’s gone, the wallet is empty. As the SEC continues to decide how to recognize and handle cryptocurrency, there is also the potential for digital currencies to pay for things like online gambling and entertainment in the years ahead.
Last year, ICE London demonstrated a string of intriguing technology advancements that could also be adopted by the US online bingo industry in the coming years. The biggest development was the use of virtual reality (VR) headsets to create a more immersive element in online slot games. There is no doubt that VR could also be implemented in online bingo, transporting players into virtual bingo halls and creating an even more life-like bingo experience.
As technology and society evolves, so too do traditional entertainment industries like bingo. With the next generation of players preferring the frequency and immediacy of online bingo, it’s clear to see that this is more than just a phase.