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How Online Bingo Has Changed

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The growth of Online Bingo has meant that the demographics of the game are rapidly shifting. According to a recent report by Mintel, online bingo has revolutionised the audiences that would traditionally interact with the game. Now that the game has come out of the smoky bingo hall and into the 21st century, what implications does this have for a game that used to be the sole territory of your Nanna?

The new report by Mintel makes for interesting reading. Most important is the admission that the proportion of players under 45 yrs of age has shot up from 46% to 62% in the last decade, the study found. And as for the young ones, players aged 18 to 24 now make up 700,000 of Britain’s 3.5 million players. This has been reasonably attributed to the revolution of online bingo.

Since Think Bingo, the first standalone UK Bingo site was launched nearly 4 years ago, the internet and the online bingo industry have grown exponentially. In 2008 alone, the industry grew by a staggering 60%. To some extent, this has stolen valuable custom from bingo halls, as the report shows a drop of ten percent in those travelling to their local bingo club.

However, online bingo comes with its own distinct advantages for younger players. A glut of sites has raised the game of jackpots awarded, with opportunities to win millions of pounds. More and more promotions are in tune with younger consumers, with numerous concerts and giveaways aimed around youth culture. Electrical items such as Wii’s and days out to family theme parks show the desire of online bingo halls to cater for a range of generations.

Operators have also made great use of the latest technology to support community features that tap into the modern world’s desire for social networking in the comfort of your own home. Some of the 2000 participants in the Mintel survey have praised the game for being “simple and retro, you get a bit of a buzz. You chat to other players so it’s sociable.”

It seems the online bingo world has struck a balance between high technology and retro familiarity. And with this, they have managed to expand the net to catch new fans of bingo. Whereas most bingo halls have clientele comprising of people between 60 and 70 years of age that are traditionally retired, online bingo seems to have grown the market of manual, managerial and skilled workers, who find that the fast paced games on the sites can fit perfectly into spare time at home or in the office.

But does this mean that old time fans of the game will get left behind? No bingo operator worth their salt would purposely seek to alienate their loyal fans, whether they are online or offline. And yet the worrying fact is the land-based clubs are failing to properly leverage their existing customer bases. Although land-based bingo has seen both revenue and admissions drop since the year 2006 by 26% and 22% respectively, only around 6% of bingo club-goers have converted to online sites.

Although Mintel confirm that “the proportion experimenting online is growing”, saying “there is now a slow bleed of club players to the online world”, the report also concludes that although the land-based bingo giants Gala and Mecca Bingo “control 80 percent of club (land) revenue… combined they hold only an estimated 23 percent of online revenue”. This is because online bingo sites are savvy to the way their consumers behave, and who they should be targeting, bringing exciting new propositions to people that want to respond to it.

However, much work should be done on the part of the land based and online bingo industries to ensure they do not forget their valid customers. Bingo sites should seek to ensure they have simple user interactions and target some of the more traditional fans of bingo, ensuring they focus on existing generations of bingo fans as well as finding new ones. Luckily, as the industry grows, more sites are becoming available where you can find the great atmosphere of a traditional bingo hall online. And, there are hundreds of sites that offer simple, step by step guides and reviews so that anyone – young or old – can find a bingo site that is their perfect match.

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