Bingo is steeped in tradition, hundreds of years old, a perennial old-school classic. But in the last couple of decades, the game started to become a little stale. Always part of the furniture with every casino, sure, but perhaps close to becoming a has-been.
People started to ask the question: Is bingo dead?
It certainly started looking that way. In the United Kingdom, for example, it used to be hard to find a town or city without a bingo hall. But now, they’re a little difficult to find. By 2014, almost 80% of all bingo halls had closed.
But just under a decade later, the outlook for bingo looks a little different. Let’s explore how the perennial game has been re-ignited, partially due to a new player on the block.
Online Casinos: A New Hope?
In 2014, online casinos did exist. But they’re nothing like what’s on offer these days. People now have advanced smartphones, affordable 4/5G cell phone connections, and operators have levelled up and now offer games that really do cut the mustard.
Even though land-based casinos are feeling the pinch and growth is slowing, the online casino industry is well and truly healthy. It’s growing year-on-year, and profits continue to break records.
It’s also given old-school table games like roulette and blackjack a new audience. Younger gamblers who are more used to video games are now turning to these classic titles. Bingo is also a beneficiary of this widening access, with players intrigued by the intrinsic fun the game offers.
Some casinos have leveraged bingo’s revival and even added a new trick or two. SkyCity, an online operator based in New Zealand, recently released a new bingo feature for their customers, highlighting how there’s renewed interest in the old classic.
The core rules of bingo are still the same, just online (and with a little added spice, depending on the online casino!). Numbers are drawn at random, with the caller presiding over the game. Players get a sheet with a set of numbers, and the first one to mark the necessary combinations wins. It’s a simple formula, making it an accessible game for pretty much anyone.
Why Did Bingo Decline?
Let’s step into our time machine and explore why bingo has this reputation as crashing or even collapsing as a market. Well, we first need to understand just how popular this game was at one point.
In both the United Kingdom and the United States, the game was a dominant force. Bingo halls everywhere, gambling and socializing, maybe winning some money or prizes along the way.
When you reach such heights, there is a long way to go down. So even though bingo never truly reached the bottom of the barrel in terms of popularity, it did lose its spot at the top of the mountain.
So why the shift? Well, a lot of it has to do with changing trends. Why are bell bottoms no longer a thing? And the less we say about man-buns the better. The bottom line, trends are complicated.
USA vs. UK Bingo
The rules are pretty much the same, but the experience of bingo is a little different depending on where you are. In Britain, for example, bingo became a driver for socializing. It wasn’t so much about putting your money on the line in order to win or play, but as a focal point for the community.
In the United States, however, bingo has always been seen as more of a competitive outlet. The people who play bingo tend to be more competitive about it, playing to win, rather than socializing. The focus is just entirely different.
This also makes it interesting for online casinos, as they have to cater to a wider audience. This is also an advantage, as they can offer pretty much anything they want in-house, without losing space on the floor, as you would at a land-based establishment.
Even during its major hype period, where finding a bingo hall seemed easier than a local supermarket, it was often seen as a game for an older crowd. You probably know the stereotype: your grandmother and her friends, going down to play bingo for hours, chatting and playing.
But now, bingo’s revival has seen bingo become an ‘in’ thing to do. The best example of this trend is London’s Shoreditch, a newly gentrified hipster area with the coolest bars in town. Do you know what else it has? Yes, a bingo hall.
This one doesn’t have the bright hospital lights and hundreds of OAPs, but instead offers trendy drinks, craft beers, and gastro-pub food. That’s a true 180° switch compared to the traditional bingo hall.
Bingo in 2023 and Beyond
Listen, bingo will probably never go extinct. It was invented hundreds of years ago, and it’s still kicking and going strong. Sure, it’s gone through periods of hyper-popularity and having to take the backseat, but it has always remained a staple game.
With the new lease of life, the game has been given in recent years, both in land-based establishments and online casinos, there’s no reason to believe that bingo will not keep on growing well beyond 2023.