My main piece this month is a follow up to last months discussion over modern technology coming into the bingo clubs today. I ended the blog by stating that you can never get rid of the paper bingo but after reading articles this month I am not so sure. A woman was reported to have missed out on £1000 in winnings because the caller did not stop the game when she shouted and instead carried on. Now, missed claims are not an unusual story in the world of bingo, in actual fact it happens all the time. In this instance the customer has kicked up a fuss and taken her story to the local press. I just hope that the club involved hold steadfast in keeping to the rules of the game (unless of course it is proven that the caller did indeed make an error and ‘missed’ the claim) instead of bowing down to media pressure. But could modern technology get rid of missed claims for good; or would it interfere with the ‘skill’ aspect of the game?
For as long as I can remember, the way to play bingo was to buy your books, listen and dab off the numbers on your cards, and scream like a banshee when the last number completes the line/2 lines/house. Over the last couple of years though more and more technology has been brought into place which has made this process easier for the player. Handheld electronic tickets which keep an eye on your best tickets as you dab them off and alert you to when you have won are now commonplace in most modern clubs. And now the computer terminals are popping up where: via a touchscreen/swipe card method you can now purchase, play and win without even leaving your seat. The winning is automatic and the prizes are instantly put back onto your card. I have even heard reports from players in some clubs that the shouting aspect has gone from the terminal players as all the player has to do is to press a button on the touchscreen to alert the caller to the claim; and as long as the caller is being stopped by the player (no matter whether it is through a shout/a button press that pops up on the callers monitor/ or by somebody sounding a klaxon and throwing there knickers on the stage!) then they are playing according to the club rules, which everyone accepts when they become a club member.
But is this fair though? I remember when playing bingo was all about the skill of it. You would learn how to play by your mother or friend or whoever dragged you down to the club. Invariably you would miss your first claim because you never realised you had a line, or that you never knew you had to shout the moment the number came out, and quite quickly you would make sure that you would never make the same mistake again. I have to say that I am one of the fortunate few who have never missed out on a claim whilst playing (although there was one instance where my two lines came out of nowhere and the next number came out, but fortunately me shouting down the house stopped the caller from starting it!) and this has mostly to do with the fact that I have seen literally tens of dozens of people miss out by either being too slow, too quiet, or even too shy to stop the claim. In these people’s cases maybe the computerised way of playing might be more beneficial to them? How many new players I wonder visit a club for the first time only to become overwhelmed by the variety and pace of the game, miss a claim, then never come back because it was all too complicated for them? Die hard old-school bingo players might say ‘tough’ if a new player misses out. At the end of the day a player missing out means another chance for them to win. I bet the player who won the full house from the disabled pensioner in the article didn’t forgo the prize because it wasn’t fair that the caller hadn’t heard the earlier claim. You BET they didn’t! They were probably cursing when they heard the commotion beforehand and then went ‘goodie’ when the caller refused the complaint and carried on with the game. This is just the nature of the game……But would totally automated bingo be the solution to the ‘missed claim’ forever?
Play bingo at any site on your computer and the game is played in front of you. Whilst you are talking in the chat rooms…..or making a cup of tea…..your tickets are being dabbed off automatically and your winnings are claimed for straight away. If online gaming operated in the same way as the bricks and mortar business then I think that bingo online would have ended a long time ago. The amount of lawsuits would be astronomical; not to mention that the gaming commission would be shutting sites left, right and centre for cheating the players out of winnings that were meant to be theirs. It shouldn’t take a lot of effort to make all bingo clubs run in a similar way, and wouldn’t this be easier for everyone? Totally automated bingo whereby the players could dab without fear of missing out on a prize? Or would that take away the whole point of playing and winning at bingo? What’s the point of dabbing if the winnings are automatically credited to you?
To be totally honest with you I have no definitive opinion on this matter: Do we keep the old methods whereby if you miss the last number you miss the prize, or do we go the online route and automatically stop the claims? Discuss………..