Firstly, belated Happy New Year to all Playing Bingo readers out there. Been as it’s January, it must be time for my annual rant about Which Bingo’s Online Bingo Awards. It’s ironic that they’ve dubbed themselves the ‘Online Bingo Oscars‘ as frankly the awards are as crooked and pointless as the trumped up Hollywood centric movie awards. You’ll be seeing posts all over the Bingo-blogosphere about the awards trumpeting and reporting on the result with little analysis or question.
Well not here, where personally I think the whole event needs a complete overhaul if the results are going to be in the slightest bit relevant or illuminating. The awards are decided by people voting on the sites of their choice. A public vote can be a good thing, but in the case of Bingo sites, it comes down to who can mobilise the most of their members to vote for themselves, when often they may not have any idea about the wider field. I would rather see a panel of regular online bingo players and industry experts convene to decide a short list of sites and build the top sites based on merit rather than have it skewed by sites getting their players to vote.
The awards should be based around a number of checkable and measurable criteria to be of any import and relevance to online players. Things like payout levels, transparency of terms and conditions, minimum payout levels, player levels, chat friendliness and more should be considered. Simply having members vote for their site is too simplistic. If I had the time I would try and do something like this myself, but at present it’s not going to happen. That said it would be good to see staff at Which Bingo step up to the mark and change the way the annual awards are organised. It’s a recognised brand and as such it would have the authority to award the sites in the manner I’ve prescribed rather than just by vote.
I also don’t think it helps the industry to cover the awards in such depth and give them such prominence. Some of the sites in the list are questionable to say the least, and fail in many of their elements of customer care and reasonable terms and conditions for players. A number of them will be proudly displaying their Which Bingo award winner status, giving the impression to new players that the site is worthy of their money and time, when in many cases that’s not necessarily the case.
So let’s look at the results and see why my frustration is so piqued. Here’s some selected highlights from the list, and comments on why I don’t think they’re worthy of being ranked so highly. First up, the best site awards:
- 1st Jackpot Joy – Well, one 90 ball bingo room, and to the best of my knowledge they still haven’t fixed the issue with ticket sales that leads to you getting duplicate numbers on a strip of six. Other than that though, Jackpot Joy is good at what it does, but as far as Bingo goes, it’s far from the best.
- 2nd Platinum Play Bingo – Well this one’s a real WTF moment. I’ve seen this site being advertised on Bingo portals and newsletters around the UK (naming no names) which means they’ve done a good job not informing their advertisers that they’re breaking the law advertising a site that’s licensed outside the Gambling Commission’s white listed areas. The site also runs on the Microgaming platform, which is not good Bingo software and has very low player levels. To be honest I wouldn’t even describe it as an also ran, let alone the second best site of 2008.
- 4th Bingo Liner UK – As much as I have a grudging respect for Bingo Liner’s insistence on sticking with the EXE in a flash world, I wouldn’t go so far as to put it in forth place. Given the low levels of players at the site, I can’t help but wonder how many actual votes were cast in the whole poll to see this come in at 4th place!
- Various Positions – Amazed to see so many sites in their running on the Cosy Games platform. Typically the sites have less than satisfactory terms and conditions, predatory withdrawal conditions and a poorly thought out Bingo platform. That said there are 4 of these site skins in the top 11! Why?!
- Various Positions – Where are the quality sites, the sites that day on day, week on week have offered UK Bingo players a mix of great value, great service, originality, great prizes and great entertainment? Well, let me tell you – there’s only two of them in the top ten, and the rest languish even further down the table. Shocking.
So that’s the ‘Best’ sites of 2008… Hmmm. After that debacle, there’s unfortunately more of the same in the Best Newcomers category too. Several sites I’d encourage people to avoid crop up in the list, and the more worthy entries are further down the list than they deserve to be. For my money either Wink Bingo or Tombola would be in first place in the newcomers category (although I’d question if Tombola was a new site or not given events the last year). There are a number of networked skins in there as well that have done little more than add their banner to a site and offer nothing of note or worth to the field. Really poor.
So there we go – if you’re new to Bingo and see this list, take it with an EEC salt mountain sized pinch of salt. No doubt I’ll be back here the same time next year with an equally dispirited report on the 2009 Bingo Awards. Don’t blame me if I just cut and paste this year’s piece again.