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August 19, 2019

How Technology Saved Bingo

In the second part of the 20th century bingo was without doubt, one of the most popular pastimes in the UK and Ireland. Millions of people in both countries regularly spent their weekends in one of the thousands of purpose-built bingo halls around the countries.



However towards the end of the millennium the traditional powerhouse seemed to be fading into obscurity, destined for the scrap heap. Rising taxes, changing consumer trends and the smoking ban were blamed for bingo’s fall from grace.

However those claims were rubbished in recent years as the game began to rise in popularity once again, thanks to technology. In this article we take a look at how tech saved the day for bingo.

Why was bingo popular in the first place?

In the UK bingo was officially legalised by the British government in 1960 when The Betting and Gambling Act was passed. Prior to that bingo had predominantly being used as a fundraising activity at fares and galas.

Because of that the game already played an important role in the community, so when it was legalised as a gambling activity it wasn’t too much of a stretch to get people involved. Former cinemas and community centres were soon converted into bingo halls, drawing in huge crowds every night of the week.

For a time it seemed like bingo was bulletproof – fourteen million people were registered to play 3 years after its legalisation – but as with everything, time soon began to catch up with it. The decline of the British seaside, which was one of the bingo’s most profitable regions struck the first blow to the industry.

Successive blows came in the way of shifting consumer trends before in 2005, the smoking ban came into effect which effectively hammered the final nail in the coffin of traditional bingo halls.

The Tech Revival

The internet was a game changer for a number of industries, despite enabling the death of a number of businesses, it has also provided the springboard for a revival to many more. The gambling industry was quick to take advantage of the internet, using it to bring casinos and sports betting to a wider audience.

After witnessing the success of those two gambling sectors, bingo decided to jump on board in order to address its waning popularity. By 2010 there were hundreds of online bingo sites, all welcoming staggering numbers of customers to their sites on a daily basis.

The game is finally on the rise in the UK once again, and although there is some way to go before it reaches participation levels of 14 million like in 1963, early growth signs are good. The latest industry statistics report that 3 and a half million people are registered to play bingo online.

The rise in popularity of online bingo has led to a rise in comparison sites like Bingoport which allow customers to find the best online bingo provider for themselves, armed with all the facts, figures and reviews.

The Mobile App Boost

Referring to bingo’s move to online as a ‘tech revival’ is a bit generalist and doesn’t do justice to the specifics of what boosted the game’s engagement figures. The biggest technological revolution in bingo came in the form of high-functioning, professional mobile apps.

Just like in other areas of gambling, bingo had a laissez-faire approach to mobile apps when they first rose to prominence in the late 2000s. As a result of this slapdash attitude the first mobile bingo apps that hit the market were absolutely terrible.

If you’re ever bored we’d recommend going through the online reviews of bingo apps and scrolling back to around 2010. The expletive laden reviews highlight just how poor these crash prone apps were.

Thankfully some of the major players in the industry got their collective acts together and invested the kind of money into app development that they should have done originally. Many of the big names in the industry have poached top tech developers from the world of video games in order to improve the fare that they serve up to their customers.

Sticking to Bingo’s Roots

One of the biggest draws for bingo down the years has been its role as a social game that brings people together. Bingo halls weren’t just gambling centres, they were meeting places for the local community.

Somewhere to socialise, have fun, make friends and laugh at the outrageous remarks of the bingo caller. After an initial clunky period of release online bingo sites began to recognise the important social role that the game played and attempted to recreate it online.

Whilst an online app is never going to be able to compete with the actual experience of meeting new people in real life, it can go some way to recreating it. Live chat was introduced at first to encourage players to interact with one another.

Shortly after that the vast majority of online providers signed up dedicated hosts to interact with players, encourage conversation and try to recreate some of the fun that characterises traditional bingo callers.

Technologically speaking this move from online bingo companies wasn’t exactly ground breaking but it did have a massive impact on the popularity of the game. Critics claiming that the online variety lacks the human aspect of traditional bingo were soon made to eat their words.

Further to that, players that interact with one another are more likely to play for a longer period of time. That’s good news for online companies that have reaped the benefits of increased profits, but also good news for the consumer who has a more enjoyable online experience.

Summary

Had bingo not made the move to the internet it seems likely that the game would have faded much further into obscurity. In its previous guise, there is no way that bingo could have survived in the modern era.

In relation to other industries, the technological innovations in online bingo do not particularly stand out. However when measured for their importance to the game and the overall gambling industry, they have been undoubtedly monumental.


 
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