Traditional gambling of all types has taken a huge hit financially in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. All non essential businesses were forced to close in many countries around the world as local authorities struggled to contain the surge of infections. Casinos closed down and Las Vegas turned off the lights. High street bookmakers had to pull down the shutters and bingo halls closed up and locked down.
Bingo has a long history and has been around longer than many people realise. In fact it is estimated that bingo has been around for nearly 500 years! That might surprise some but the game has always had a loyal following. Unfortunately due to Covid-19 and other financial factors many bingo halls are closing for good and will not open again even after restrictions are lifted.
Just as traditional bingo venues are closing the online bingo industry is on the rise. There are many websites and smartphone apps available for players to enjoy the game and it is attracting new players by the day. Why is it that as bingo seems to be dying out in towns it is thriving online?
Traditional bingo halls
The image that many people think of when a bingo hall is mentioned is that of a large room filled with mostly older women, possibly with blue or purple rinses crouched over multiple bingo cards and playing with a speed of mind that belies their advanced years. If a newcomer to the local hall happens to win there would be a lot of muttering and tutting from the seasoned players. It is perhaps this slightly intimidating atmosphere that can put some younger people off. Of course the image of bingo halls is not exactly trendy or likely to attract a group of late teens for a night out which is a shame as part of the attraction of bingo halls is the social element where old friends get to meet once or twice a week.
Falling numbers at the halls
Due to the players at tradition halls being of an older generation this also means that as players sadly pass on the membership count drops. This obviously means a loss in revenue and the image of these establishments does not help attract new players as replacements. Many bingo companies have tried to liven up their image and use younger actors and models in their advertising but it seems to have had little effect.
Costs and expenses of bingo halls & players
Generally in countries such as England or the UK, bingo halls would be in large towns and in an accessible area. This means the rental costs during Covid of such a building could be unmanageable and as property prices increase it becomes impossible to run a bingo hall and make any profit.
If bingo halls try to locate out of town then they risk alienating their traditional base of players who may not be able to travel far, have mobility issues or cannot afford the extra transport costs.
Covid-19 and lockdowns
Covid-19 has proven to be the final nail in the coffin for many bingo halls. In the UK Buzz Bingo announced that 26 halls would not reopen after the first lockdown was lifted. This put nearly 600 jobs at risk and left players with nowhere to go. Players in the towns have 3 choices; either travel to the next town with a bingo hall, stop playing the game or go online.
During the lockdown more people than ever went online to casinos, bingo sites and other gambling establishments. There were a record number of Google searches for online casinos during this period. People needed to be entertained while in self isolation and playing in a live casino or a few games of bingo was a popular choice.
Online chat rooms
Bingo games online can offer the same social element that halls can, albeit with a slight difference. A player can still arrange to meet with their friends on a bingo website at a certain time and they can converse through the chat function that lots of online bingo games have. One advantage of an online chat feature is that people can use it for social networking anonymously and make new friends.
Online bonuses and free boards
When you visit a bingo hall you often have to become a member and you may pay a subscription or sign up fee. After that you will have to buy your boards for each game. Online bingo has very different overheads to bingo halls and so they work differently.
For a start the online bingo industry is very competitive so they need to fight to attract you to register with them. You will not need to pay any fee to join or any subscription. You will have to pay for your boards still but when you sign up you will very likely receive free games. In many cases you may be able to play for up to 3 days completely free but able to win money. There will be terms and conditions such as depositing a minimum fee before you can retrieve your winnings but all these incentives are attracting new players.
It is not just bingo sites that offer these incentives. You can get an online casino bonus when you visit many of the other betting sites to play games like blackjack, poker and slots too so if you enjoy casino games and bingo then you can look for these sign up bonuses.
Younger people spend more time online than anyone else in general so if you want to attract new players this is how you do it. Make the online bingo games look attractive with good graphics, bonuses, special offers and more so that younger players are tempted to try out bingo. Also there is the anonymity. No one has to physically travel to a bingo hall, they can just grab their smartphone and login.
Bingo is a simple game that anyone can play and many people enjoy it immensely. Unfortunately the traditional image of bingo halls has stopped a huge section of people from being attracted to playing. WIth the rise of online bingo coupled with the lockdown more and more younger people are joining up to play boosting the industry. On top of this older players who have lost their local halls are also now moving over to online gaming and so there is a mix of veteran players along with newcomers.