It’s no secret that one of my favourite online bingo sites is Sun Bingo, which runs on the Tombola Bingo platform. They have since the start stood out for their value, the strength of their Bingo community and their focus on good old fashioned Bingo over slots and casino games. The Sun’s name and Tombola’s community focused Bingo software helped make Sun Bingo the top online site for the game in the UK beating off competition from the likes of Gala and Mecca Bingo.
Given this success, it came as a major shock to hear at the Online Bingo Summit last month that Sun Bingo and Tombola would be parting company in August this year. More shocking was when one of the software vendors in the exhibition hall inadvertently revealed who the Sun Bingo will be relaunching their Bingo with. In my opinion, the new partner offers a far inferior Bingo platform to the current Tombola one.
This last week, Sun Bingo members have been receiving emails about the move, telling them they will have to re-sign up on the 26th August to access the new service, or they can stay with Tombola Bingo who will retain their existing accounts and they can play as normal. If you’re an existing Sun Bingo member, then you’ll be wondering which option you should choose. Personally, I would suggest that existing members stick with Tombola Bingo for the time being, as I think they will be disappointed when they try the new look Sun Bingo. I believe it will be found wanting compared to the existing site.
In fact, the Sun’s choice of it’s new partner Jackpot Joy could be seen as a cynical attempt to get more money out of its gaming platform and Bingo members, which for me is reason enough to stick with Tombola. This is merely speculation on my part, but after discussing it with a number of people at the summit it would seem to be a fairly typical opinion. Jackpot Joy offer Bingo, but it is not their focus, slots and skill gaming is its focus. It’s my opinion that Sun Bingo looked at the amount of money being made at other sites on the side games against the Bingo, and this swayed The Sun to look for pastures new, eyes filled with the potential of expanding its already big profits even more. In fact it could be a counter-productive move on their part and backfire spectacularly.
Personally, I don’t like these high stakes games being so prominent in online bingo, which makes Tombola’s choice to avoid them all the more impressive and commendable given the greed in the market place. Let’s face it, slots where you can easily spend £20+ a spin are not typical Bingo side games, your average Bingo player just wants to play their cards, and maybe play the odd ‘cheap’ side game once in a while. Tombola with their years of experience in Bingo have recognised this and focused on value and Bingo, which is why they have succeed so well and have built so much good will in the industry and amongst players.
The Sun seems intent on throwing this ethos away in favour of getting players to part with cash on a whole plethora of slots, keno and casino games as well as Bingo. It could back-fire on them in a big way, especially if the new Jackpot Joy powered Sun Bingo fails to replicate the community features of the old look site. With around 2000 concurrent Bingo players at the existing site, the chat rooms were split into different rooms within the same club. Given Jackpot Joy’s limited existing chat features, I can’t see how they will replicate this at the new site, and if they don’t the current users won’t like it and will stay with what’s familiar.
I also think that The Sun’s current great value and ticket limitations will also not be carried over to the new platform, which is another downside for the players. I really think this move is motivated by money and not what’s right for the members, which is a real shame from a company that excelled in providing a great environment for its players. So yes, at the moment I’m suggesting Sun players stick with Tombola Bingo. The Tombola site has all the same features as the existing Sun site, just with a different design and colour scheme. More importantly it also has the members accounts that Sun Bingo has.
I really feel sorry for all the regular Sun Bingo players, the community that’s there will be split and decimated after a couple of years building such a strong bond around the site’s chat and other member events. It almost feels like a retail closure to me, I believe it will be difficult for either Tombola or The Sun to rebuild what it currently has, and let’s hope that spark is not lost for good.