BBC Says that Online Bingo is Booming
In the UK people are inundated with ads for online bingo sites on television and newspapers. Anita Heffernan, 50, is a typical player and says said she spends two or three hours daily playing online bingo. Heffernan told BBC reporters that she does not play for the money and her biggest win to date was about £400. Since bingo is a random game of chance most players spend more than they win. Heffernan stated "It is a hobby. I would much rather do that than spend a night out in town."
There has been a rapid growth of the number of online bingo sites. In 2002 there were only about 20 but today there are between 350 to 400. Operators include bingo giants like Mecca and Gala, newspapers and independent operators. There are also several online bingo networks operating in the UK. When the national smoking ban was imposed in 2007 several bingo hall operators turned to online bingo to remain profitable. The smoking ban caused a 63% drop in the number of players attending games. While the ban was disastrous for bingo halls the online bingo industry benefitted from the Exodus from bingo halls. Some operators reported an 80% increase in player numbers.
Since bingo is a game of chance there are no strategies to learn. Online bingo is also extremely affordable and operators offer players a plethora of bonuses and promotions to keep them coming back for more. In Britain 90 ball bingo is the game of choice. In the UK most marketing efforts by online bingo operators target women. In face 75% to 80% of all online bingo players are women. University of Glasgow professor Gerda Reith stated "They're trying to appeal to people they know like bingo and get them to play online. That's women."
According to the BBC report chat rooms have been instrumental in attracting online bingo players. Most bingo sites mark cards automatically allowing players plenty of time to chat. In land based bingo halls talking during games is a cardinal sin but at online bingo sites conversations during games are encouraged. Many bingo sites allow players to message one another privately. Mark Griffiths, professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University said that the growth of online bingo is part of the "feminisation" of gambling. Griffiths stated "People conceptualise it as a bit of harmless fun, a harmless flutter and even though they know it's a form of gambling, they never use the word."
It looks that online bingo is here to stay and has a bright future. Mecca, a major player in the British bingo industry, said that a fifth of the money it takes in is from online bingo. Griffiths believes the shift online is likely to continue and that bingo is at the center of a new form of 'soft Gambling.
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