Traditionally, bingo was played in big halls, with the chatter of old, and new, friends buzzing through the room. The Bingo caller would have fun names for the numbers; ‘Two Fat Ladies, 88’ or ‘Number three, cup of tea’ resounding through the room.
Bingo was as much about winning and gambling as it was about seeing friends and having a night out. It reached peak popularity in the 1960s, with over 14 million players in 1963, but as other gaming options emerged and trends changed, bingo remained steadfast and failed to adapt, until it made the move online and into the 21st Century.
The popularity of bingo halls has been declining in recent years, with a number of bingo halls closing around the UK over the last decade. In the year 2019-2020, bingo halls generated a CGY of GBP635.9 million, a 5.7% fall on the previous year. But this is not because bingo is becoming less popular. On the contrary, bingo has been hugely successful in its shift online. In the same period, online bingo generated GBP274.1 million, an increase of 0.9% from the previous year, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Although online bingo is hugely popular for a myriad of reasons, can it ever be as sociable as traditional bingo? There are many critics who were doubtful of the ability for the social aspect to translate well online, but the proof is in the pudding, and online bingo is hugely sociable! The free bingo chat rooms have proved to be an invaluable tool in keeping players talking to each other.
Operators have worked hard to retain the social side of bingo in the move online, knowing that this was an important element of the game that should not be lost. The nature of playing bingo has also changed, meaning that players are more able to engage with others whilst playing the game, rather than less.
Traditionally, players would use a dabber to mark of their numbers as they were called. This meant that players would have to play in silence whilst the numbers were being called. Online bingo now means that the numbers are automatically marked off, leaving time for players to do other things, like talk to each other in the chatrooms.
Traditional offline bingo requires players to be silent during number calling so they can mark off the correct number.
How do chatrooms work?
A bingo chatroom is a pop up box that allows players to interact with fellow bingo-players. They can add a profile photo and basic information about them, as well as play mini chatroom games with other players. It is a great way for players to meet like-minded individuals and talk about anything from work, to family, hobbies, and the state of the world. Players are not limited to meeting players from their local area, and can use this as an opportunity to make friends across the country, or even the world!
Players can even use the chat rooms to send gifts to other players, as well as create group chats, and set up regular bingo nights from the comfort of their own homes. The chatroom can help people stay more connected, especially if groups are based in different geographical locations, and can help people who live alone or may be isolated make friends.
Chatrooms can be customised to suit the preferences of the player; the colour of the font can be changed to reflect personality, and players can increase or decrease the size of the font depending on their needs. There is also the functionality to send smiley faces and icons, that help build rapport and friendships.
As well as smiley icons, players can send each other gifts, something that is always fun and helps solidify relationships. There is also a range of ‘Bingo Lingo’ to help players really get into the groove of bingo, like ‘1tg’ which means waiting on one number to win the bingo prize, and ‘GL’ which means Good Luck! The more players play, the more they learn the lingo.
The host is also an integral part of the chatroom, welcoming players as they arrive. They also help to keep things friendly, answering any questions players may have, running smaller chatroom games and generally helping to keep conversation flowing and players engaged. They will also help directing players to other departments for any issues that may come up, much like the reception in a bingo hall would. Many players head to bingo sites mainly for the bingo chatrooms for the social aspect of it more so than the actual bingo element!
Many bingo players enjoying playing online bingo to participate in the online chat rooms.
What does the future hold for online bingo?
Bingo has been very successful in its shift online, although it has done so somewhat later than other traditional casino games like poker and slots, which spotted a gap in the market much earlier. However, by waiting, Bingo has been able to take advantage of more advanced technology to be able to offer a more comprehensive and immersive experience for players.
Technology continues to advance at a fast pace, and developments in Virtual and Augmented reality are beginning to be seen in the world of computer games and online casinos. It is only a matter of time before online bingo uses VR and AR to make the social interaction even more realistic, making them even more sociable. Players will be able to walk around the virtual bingo hall and speak to fellow bingo players, forging meaningful relationships.