With a nearly 500-year history to call upon, it is fair to say that the iconic game of bingo has truly stood the test of time as a mainstream entertainment activity.
Bingo has evolved massively since it first saw light of day as an Italian lottery game during the 16th century to become a global phenomenon.
It was not until just before the First World War that bingo surfaced in the United States, but it soon found favour with millions of people.
The United Kingdom quickly latched on, and the game soon became the national pastime with bingo halls opening in towns and cities across the country.
Bingo was particularly popular with working class people, with many viewing the game as their main social activity each week.
Thigs began to change as the new millennium approached, with people turning away from the game as more exciting activities emerged.
However, the launch of the internet came just at the right time, allowing operators to develop bingo websites that have since gone from strength to strength.
The shift towards online bingo
Towards the end of the last century bingo’s reputation suffered a bit of bashing, with many land-based venues failing to move with the times.
The smoking ban and high taxation also impacted the industry, forcing many operators to rethink their business strategy moving forward.
The most innovative brands leveraged modern technology to their advantage by developing online sites that introduced the game to a new demographic.
While the first incarnations of bingo sites were fairly basic affairs, this did not stop them from becoming hugely popular with millions of players across the world.
People no longer had to rely on visiting bingo halls to play their favourite game, with digital devices providing them with easy access.
The 21st century bingo boom
It was estimated that around half a million people played bingo each day during its land-based boom years, highlighting the impact it made.
The shift towards online sites had a devastating impact on the industry, with around three-quarters of bingo venues in London alone forced to close their doors.
However, the online boom has been truly staggering, with analysts forecasting that the global market will be worth around $2 billion by 2022.
Interestingly, this has sparked a resurgence in people visiting brick-and-mortar venues, with the sector piggy-backing on the rise in interest in bingo.
The game has also infiltrated other entertainment areas such as bingo cruises and bingo raves, further heightening its popularity.
Marketing to a different audience
One of the most notable ways bingo has made an impact in recent years has been to power a significant growth in the number of females playing games online.
Many operators have expertly used gender specific marketing such as colour branding and tone of voice to specifically attract female players.
Although this can be viewed as tapping into traditional stereotypes, the marketing tactic has still proved to be hugely effective in recent years.
It is now estimated that around one-third of players at online casinos are female and that figure jumps significantly on bingo sites.
Slots are also particularly popular with female players, while poker and roulette are seeing a rise in the number of female players.
Embracing the social side of bingo
As previously mentioned, socialising was a hugely part of bingo when it gained traction in the US and UK during the last century.
Online operators recognised this at an early stage by incorporating chatroom facilities alongside all different games on their bingo sites.
This opened the door for friends or family to meet up online, or for players to interact with other like-minded individuals on the site.
Chatrooms are now part-and-parcel of most online casino games, with players able to engage with others on table games like poker and blackjack.
Live casino games also take their inspiration from the social element of gambling, allowing players to chat in real-time with other players or the dealer.
A new look for iGaming sites
Advancements in technology have provided iGaming operators and developers with the tools to push the boundaries of what is possible online.
It does not seem too long ago that gambling sites were split by genre – if you wanted to play bingo you visited a bingo site. For poker it had to be a poker site and so on.
Fast forward to today and the best brands incorporate different games into one site. For instance, 888ladies offers bingo, slots and more, making the site appealing to a wider audience.
Within that offering is a wide range of bingo games including exciting variants such as Flash Fives and Swedish Bingo.
Modern bingo and casino sites are effectively a one-stop-shop for your iGaming needs, providing you with endless hours of fun.
Bingo and the casino industry in the future
With online bingo on track to become a $2bn business in 2022, it is fair to say that the industry has never been in better shape.
As with many other sectors powered by tech, the landscape will undoubtedly to continue to evolve rapidly over the next few years.
Many operators have already experimented with virtual reality (VR) technology, and the hardware that supports this finally looks ready to live up to expectations.
Developers have worked tirelessly to create headsets that deliver a truly immersive experience, which could be an exciting development for bingo.
VR could be used to offer players the chance to play bingo in a virtual venue of their choosing, taking the gameplay experience to a whole new level.