Published on July 29th, 2019 | by Bibhuranjan


How the Bingo Industry Reinvented Itself to Attract New Audiences

There’s no doubt that the image of bingo took something of a hit in recent times. Towns and cities across the UK used to be home to bustling bingo halls where friends, families and communities would come together for an evening of socialising and light entertainment. In 2005 there were still some 600 bingo halls in operation but that number had fallen by more than 30% in 2014 to less than 400. According to The Independent, this has led to a loss of 6,500 jobs in the bingo industry during the last decade and something had to be done to revive a sector that people seemed to had fallen out of love with.

The Kingsway – former cinema / bingo hal” (CC BY 2.0) by ell brown

Dilapidated bingo halls like this one were commonplace across the UK five or six years ago

While Brits visited bricks-and-mortar bingo halls 80 million times in 2005, that figure waned to around 50% of that (43 million) in 2014. The 2007 smoking ban was one of the initial reasons that deterred bingo-goers from continuing to play, with many feeling marginalised by this approach. However, since the recovery of the economy post-2008 recession, the bingo industry has focused its efforts on bringing a new image to the classic game; an image that would entice the millennial generation to take bingo into its collective heart.

And has the turnaround been impressive in recent years! Thanks to significant investment in revamped bingo venues and the addition of new online bingo gaming formats, the number of bingo players in the UK has now leapfrogged the number of Brits who regularly play tennis. According to Sport England, some 1.7 million play tennis in the UK, compared with 1.9 million bingo players. In 2014, a ComRes poll of over 2,000 adults also suggested support for the game of bingo was strongest among those aged 18-24, proving that the industry was right to turn its attentions to millennial players.

Bongo’s bingo club nights created a real party atmosphere

One of the first waves of the ‘new age’ bingo scene was driven by the arrival of a craze known as Bongo’s Bingo. It didn’t matter whether you were new to bingo halls or a bingo veteran; nothing would have prepared you for the entertainment that ensues at a Bongo’s Bingo night. In a bid to dispel the myth that bingo is a game for pensioners, Bongo’s Bingo opted to create a nightclub, dancehall vibe within bingo halls up and down the country.

So, what does a standard night at Bongo’s Bingo entail? For sure, you’ll get plenty of rounds of bingo, but in between them you won’t be heading to the canteen to get a lukewarm hotdog or a bag of chips. Instead, you’ll be raving, getting involved in catwalks and dance-offs to try and win additional prizes, ranging from brand-new Porsches to Caribbean holidays. Yes, that’s right, you’ll be raving with glowsticks for a 15-minute interval in between games. Those familiar with the atmosphere of a live darts tournament such as the PDC World Championship will feel very at home here.

Image: Pixabay | Win or lose, you’re guaranteed a great night out at Bongo’s Bingo

Johnny Bongo is the host of each Bongo’s Bingo club night, but he’s rarely alone. In fact, he’s managed to secure celebrity appearances at many of his club nights, with stars such as David Hasselhof, S Club 7 and the Vengaboys bringing the party spirit. Tickets to a Bongo’s Bingo event cost no more than £6 to enter either, which has helped make a night out at the bingo far more appealing given the entertainment on offer.

Wink Bingo has blazed a trail for online bingo communities

It’s also important to take a nod towards the technological evolution of bingo gaming. We mentioned that the number of land-based bingo halls fell from around 600 to less than 400 between 2005 and 2014. During that time, broadband connectivity was quickly entering the mainstream, giving people access to bingo games to be played on desktop and laptop computers, as well as smartphone and tablet devices. Within the iGaming industry, adoption of HTML5 technology helped create consistent, responsive online bingo games that offer the same experience on any device, regardless of screen size.

Wink Bingo is one such online bingo community that’s looking to create unique digital bingo experiences. They’ve designed a mobile app that allows its users to play all of their favourite bingo games on the go, including variants such as 75-ball and ‘Flash Five’ bingo. They also try to keep things relevant and linked to popular culture, with bingo games based on seasonal hit television shows such as Love Island increasingly the order of the day. But most importantly, Wink Bingo has sought to replicate that community feel of land-based bingo with its online network. Each of its bingo rooms features welcoming chat hosts that are on-hand to field any player’s queries and celebrate their successes.

The inclusion of ‘VIP’ bingo also allows regular Wink Bingo players to earn bonuses for their gameplay, whether it’s free play or free spins on the Wink’s Wheel. It’s just their way of saying thanks, just like bricks-and-mortar bingo halls that used to give you a free meal or drink to enjoy while you played.

The importance of well-established brands moving with the times

The UK bingo industry is more proof, if needed, that even long-established brands need to adapt and change with the times to remain current. Technology is evolving at such a rapid pace today that it’s no longer acceptable for even big online brands such as bingo rooms to stand still. They must continue to develop the next exciting features and attractions that keep consumers coming back for more.

There is already talk of the online bingo industry investing in virtual reality (VR) technology to create virtual bingo hall environments for players to enjoy without having to leave the confines of their own home. VR headsets are predicted to enter the mainstream market in 2019 and beyond and given that VR poker is already a ‘thing’, VR bingo hardly seems a stretch of the imagination.

Whether VR bingo environments could offer the levels of engagement and immersivity that a night at Bongo’s Bingo can provide remains to be seen.

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Editorial Officer, I'm an avid tech enthusiast at heart. I like to mug up on new and exciting developments on science and tech and have a deep love for PC gaming. Other hobbies include writing blog posts, music and DIY projects.

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