Bingo in its current form has been enjoyed in the UK for almost two hundred years after migrating to this country from Italy. Throughout the first century of its adoption in the UK, bingo was enjoyed primarily at fundraisers and charitable events.
In the 1960s bingo really began to grow in popularity following its legalisation as a gambling pursuit by the British government. Hundreds of bingo halls began to pop up around the country as the number of registered players grew to 16 million.
Bingo quickly became an ever-present in British culture and would remain highly popular with players up until the turn of the Millennium. However, a failure to adapt to a changing market as well as external factors such as the smoking ban would hit bingo hard and see the active number of players dramatically drop off.
Towards the end of the 2000s, it seemed that bingo’s slow death was a formality as dozens of bingo halls closed on a weekly basis. Fortunately, for lovers of the game, the internet came to the rescue and breathed fresh life into the game.
Read on to find out just how the internet came to the rescue of bingo and why a new, digital future is better for players and investors.
Bingo’s Decline Explained
Speak to any of the thousands of staff employed by a bingo hall in the 2000s and they will tell you that the reason for the game’s dramatic drop off in popularity was the smoking ban of 2007. Instead of smoking steadily through games, punters were suddenly forced to step outside to enjoy their cigarettes.
Seemingly, this was too much of an ask for many and simply put off a lot of people from going to their local bingo halls. Whilst this may have had a small impact on playing numbers, it is unlikely to have been terminal to bingo’s decline.
After all, pubs and restaurants didn’t lose all their customers because of the smoking ban. Attributing bingo’s failing fortunes to the smoking ban is the perfect example of why the game did fall off so dramatically.
Industry leaders and business owners were simply out of touch with the wants and needs of the paying public. Bingo had not changed or adapted since the 1960s whilst its competitors had, and its customer base had changed.
At the time of the smoking ban, the players that had made bingo so popular decades before were simply dying off or growing too old to visit bingo halls. Younger crowds had not been attracted to replace the older generation because they saw bingo as the game that their parents had played.
It wasn’t new and exciting; it was old and worn out and in desperate need of a facelift which bingo halls weren’t willing to consider. It’s no surprise that even at the time of writing, physical bingo halls in the UK continue to close at a frightening rate.
Despite seeing many of their customers switch to play online bingo, many traditional bingo halls have still failed to modernise and meet the needs of an ever-changing customer base.
The smoking ban of 2007 is a factor that contributed towards the decline of the bingo halls.
Why Online Bingo is Popular
In 2007 Steve Jobs changed the world when he announced the release of the first ever iPhone handset. That smartphone would revolutionise the way that we interact with our phones and how we spend our free time.
Although the writing was on the wall way before 2007 in regard to the internet and online technology. Hundreds of millions of people at that time were spending at least two hours a day online back in 2007.
Shopping and media were beginning to make the big move to online and so was gambling, specifically poker and other casino games. Customers were thirsting for the flexibility and ease of access that the internet had to offer.
When bingo followed other casino games in moving online it appealed to a brand-new demographic of player that wanted fast action and the ability to play on the go, anytime, anyplace.
Online bingo became so popular because it took everything that had made the game popular in the first place and improved upon it for a younger audience. It was marketed specifically at a far younger demographic and its ease and functionality appealed perfectly to those busy, younger players.
The social aspect of land-based bingo has not been neglected by online providers, who have invested into chat facilities to replicate that community vibe of traditional bingo halls. All in all, online bingo is popular because of its simplicity, it caters specifically for its desired demographic and has reaped the results.
The targeted demographic for online bingo are consumers who want an ease of access and flexibility to products and services.
Online Bingo: The Future or a Stop Gap?
At the time of writing it is hard to envisage a future where online bingo drops off in popularity. It is even harder to imagine a time when traditional bingo halls could enjoy a renaissance and begin to wrestle back customers from online competitors.
However, in 2005 it would have been difficult to imagine a time when bingo would become hugely popular once again. It is incredibly hard to predict when and where the next era-defining technological advancement will take place and how it will affect any industry.
Virtual reality technology could for example make its way into the mainstream and completely change the way bingo is enjoyed. It is simply impossible to predict how future technological advances may or may not impact bingo and how it is enjoyed.
With all the available facts, it seems likely that online bingo will continue to grow in popularity online and that land-based bingo will remain in the doldrums.