Well, I had wondered how long it would be before Cheeky Bingo found itself a competitor. Cheeky Bingo made a big splash a couple of months back as the UK’s first play for free and win cash site, in which time it’s grown from nothing to a major player in the online bingo marketplace. I was really excited about this launch at the time, as it was such a first. If anything Cheeky’s been a victim of its own success, with the free rooms being so packed you have to be very lucky to win.
Posh Bingo has made the break away from being a lacklustre also ran on the Globalcom/Cassava Network and launched itself as a standalone site in direct competition with Cheeky, offering all day long free bingo games. Their timing could be perfect – if the freebie lovers are getting fed up with the busy free rooms at Cheeky, the can slide over to Posh which at the moment is one heck of a lot quieter. How long it stays this way is to be decided, and I’m sure there will be a fair number of free players doing both sites at once. That said, if it does only half as well as Cheeky, that’s a major achievement.
Posh is run by the people who made Wink Bingo the smash hit of last year, and I’m sure they’ll be putting their expertise into promoting Posh Bingo and making that as recognisable as Wink. I’m sure it will only be a matter of months, even weeks before a lot more sites follow suit. I can see big names like Tombola and Gala getting in on this bandwagon as well as loads more skins adding free bingo as standard.
How to turn those costly free players in to valuable long term depositing players will be the major challenge for these sites. If free bingo becomes as wide spread as the free sign-up bonuses are today, I can see their being tribes of nomadic free players who wander the UK’s bingo sites and consume without paying, much like the free deposit hunters do now. That’s not going to be great for the bottom line, no matter how many punters they’re pulling in.
Interesting that Gala Bingo have been trying free bingo as a big draw at their land clubs. Their club in Peterborough has reported traffic increases of 400% thanks to their free bingo sessions. But that’s not surprising. I hope these people are spending their money at the club in other places. We used to do free sessions a couple of times a week, they were always busy, but to be honest the customers for these sessions were very low value, few of them would ever come back and play in paid sessions.
Conversely, many regular players would avoid the free sessions as they didn’t like the prize levels and the “freeloaders”. I can’t see this being something that’s a problem in online bingo as the players are segregated but if Gala starts expanding free sessions to pull in the punters, they’ll have to watch they don’t alienate their loyal regulars by changing the culture and appeal of their clubs with all the issues the free sessions bring. It’ll be interesting to see if more clubs go down this root, but I know for a fact that many more online bingo sites definitely will!