For many of us, the traditional image of bingo is the old bingo hall populated by blue rinse hairdos with bingo hosts calling out antiquated phrases such as ‘Two fat ladies, 88′.
However, in recent years bingo has encountered something of a renaissance, and has even become – whisper it – fashionable. So what are the reasons behind this resurgence?
A big moment for all gambling was the 2005 Gambling Act. This took away much of the strict regulations that limited how gambling was conducted, and it also allowed advertising for the first time.
This meant that the bingo halls on the high street that were running the risk of falling into disrepair, were now seeing visitor numbers start to rise.
A lot of this was due to clever marketing that prioritised the female segment of the market through using celebrities such as Katie Price, and even using branding in bright pink and purple colours.
The success of this tactic is illustrated in the convincing figures released by the Gambling Commission‘s 2010 British Gambling Prevalence survey that found that there were twice as many women as men taking part in bingo with 12% of all females actively playing bingo.
This also highlights the role that bingo has as a social activity, where the gambling itself is fairly ‘soft’, as it is a low stakes, low turnover game that is perceived as less serious than other gambling and more of a ‘flutter’.
But that’s not to say that the prize money is not enticing. In 2008 Soraya Lowell of Lanarkshire picked up a whopping £1,167,795 on the last number of a bingo game!
But the biggest reason as to why bingo got its bounce back must be the rise of online gaming. Instead of having to go out, players can now play from the comfort of their home via a laptop or even a smartphone.
Not only is this more convenient, but through the online chat facility it can be even more sociable. In bingo halls, players are forbidden from talking while playing, but online the chatroom facility is a big draw with players being able to instantly comment on the scores in a friendly and amusing way.
And this has corresponded with a massive rise in online casinos. Whereas in 2004 there were only 20 UK sites, now there are thought to be over 350.
It also looks like the tide is turning in the online casinos’ favour with 70% of bingo players playing online, compared to just 24% who visit the traditional bingo halls.
However, there is one constant. The prize money is still pretty impressive with Jobcentre worker John Sutton recently winning a £5.9 million online jackpot with just a 30p bet!