Ah, bingo, that most traditional of British games. Having long been favoured by ladies of a certain generation and played at the local bingo hall, things are beginning to change for this most revered of pastimes. Gone are the days of traipsing down to the local hall; instead; hundreds of thousands of us are heading online for our bingo fix.
It's fair to say that bingo in its traditional form has been suffering from something of an image problem. Large groups of chatty old ladies isn't really going to inspire a whole new generation of players to take up the game, after all. Bingo wasn't viewed as so much of a sociable game either; with talking in halls very much frowned upon; unless you happen to be the caller, of course.
What if you wanted to incorporate bingo as part of an evening out? Well, time wasn't always on everyone's side. By appealing to an older generation, bingo halls traditionally opened their doors during the day when younger generations were at work or studying. Granted, some bingo halls have managed to reinvent themselves and appeal to weekend revellers, but the stigma of going to the bingo hall has, in part, remained.
The recession has taken its toll, too. What Brits needed was a cheap alternative for an evening out or, as it turned out, an evening in. Step forward online bingo; one of the most exciting developments for online gamers since the Internet exploded onto the entertainment scene in the middle of the 90s. All of a sudden, it became possible to invite your friends round, switch the laptop or computer on and play bingo with others from the comfort of your own home.
The beauty of bingo is that whether it's played remotely or non-remotely, the rules stay the same. It's not a particularly difficult game to grasp and follows the same premise of a lottery. This means that there is very little skill involved apart from concentration. Luck is the order of the day (or evening), which only adds to bingo's appeal. Perhaps you're only one number away from the jackpot; who knows whether your desired digits will come up? It's all in the hands of the virtual bingo caller!
Even if you decide to play online bingo alone, there's no reason why the online form of the game has to be unsociable. Sites like Jackpotjoy, currently the UK's most popular gaming website with a range of bingo
games, host chat rooms where it's possible to meet likeminded individuals. If you're new to the game you'll be able to pick up a few pointers, while also congratulating those who walk away with one of the site's huge jackpots. Who knows; one day, it could be you!
There's no doubt that Britain's love affair with bingo is undergoing something of a renaissance. This has been partly attributed to the convenience of playing the game online. No longer are bingo enthusiasts limited to a certain time of day in which to squeeze in a game; now, they can play at their leisure at a time that suits them, 24 hours a day.
It's important to not get too carried away though, something that is possible in games of chance. If you're worried about how much money you're spending on your bingo hobby, sites like Jackpotjoy allow you to closely monitor exactly what you're spending, so there's no reason to fork out more cash than you have to. Be Gamble Aware
If proof was needed that the popularity of bingo halls is declining, you need look no further than the government's own statistics. Since 1997, the number of operating bingo halls has fallen from 650 to 460, a decline of almost one third. While some have bemoaned the inevitable loss of a traditional British pastime, all that's needed is a glance at the bigger picture. Things change and develop over time, and nowhere is this more true than bingo, a game that has successfully made the jump from outdated venues and a narrow demographic to the online sphere; attracting hundreds of thousands of new enthusiasts along the way.
So, just how popular is Internet bingo? Well, in 2006 Global Betting and Gaming Consultants estimated that the value of online bingo across the World amounted to half a billion dollars; a study that didn't take into account the US market. The survey predicted that this value will have increased by a further billion dollars by this year; which highlights just how quickly the industry has grown.
Unsurprisingly, the demographic of the average bingo player has shifted. It is estimated that nine in every ten players is under the age of 50, while 85 per cent of online players are women, the majority of whom are aged between 30 and 55. Separate research by Parlay Entertainment found that women spend approximately 50 per cent more than their male bingo-playing counterparts every week.