Did you say ‘Free’? I hope you did! If you thought of any other four letter word then you are just naughty!! ‘Free’ is always a word that fills us with joy: from the promoters in the street who give you free samples of products, to the little known websites that offer free mobile ring tones and games….when you get something for nothing it really brightens up your day.
The bingo industry knows how much there players love the ‘F’ word and have been offering there customers, new and old alike, free bingo for many years in the club’s and more recently on the web as well. But, you may wonder, how can they do it? Free bingo? Money for nothing? Surely there is a catch? Well, there’s not…………really! For those of you that want to know, here are my views on the positives and negatives of the FREE game of from a web and a real bingo club perspective:
My first experience of the Free bingo phenomenon was within the first few days of me working for my first club. We had two Free sessions of bingo every week: on a Tuesday night and a Sunday Afternoon. I later found out that the reason for this is that in this particular company; which consisted of 5 clubs on the south coast, every club had an allocation of 1 afternoon and 1 evening of free bingo and they could not clash on there free promotions. Therefore the more ‘bargain hunting’ bingo player could visit a club in Portsmouth for free bingo on a Wednesday afternoon and then go to nearby Gosport for there free bingo session on the Thursday Afternoon.
No matter what club I have worked for though, Free bingo has always guaranteed a bumper hall full of bingo players; from young and old, bingo virgins and the hardcore alike-everyone loves a free game of bingo! Even the manager is happy because more players are in the hall which means greater returns at the diner, bar and party games area’s. But is Free bingo really free?
Well, yes it is…..as long as all you play are the Free tickets that are on offer. This generally refers to the main session books only. If you want to take part in any link games, or the National game and in some cases even the early and the late sessions; you still have to pay. So if you have never played bingo you could opt into the free games knowing that if you messed up or missed a claim, it didn’t cost you anything.
Free bingo sessions in club are also a big plus because all of the winnings are truly free and real and should you win a free game you get the cash there and then!!!!! And, as we are about to explore, in club Free bingo trumps the online version as in most cases your free session lasts for at least 10 games over the course of a 2hour session whereas online you might only get one free game an hour.
Online bingo is a different beast and is played for different reasons. Whereas in the real clubs a free session ensures a full hall of players who have to stay and play for the entire session to get there free fix; the online version has to try a lot harder to keep there players playing on there site.
Online bingo is truly a players paradise and any bingo companies potential nightmare. People playing in clubs generally only have one or two options in there towns (and in the last couple of years the choice of clubs have reduced dramatically for them!) Playing in the comfort of your own home online though and your options are practically limitless!!! A shrewd online player can browse numerous sites and dip in and out of games when it is most beneficial for them. I suppose the only bugbear being that you have to register and give your credit/debit details for every site you wish to play on. Therefore free bingo on the web can be nothing really more than a tool to bring more people to the site, hoping that they stay to play the following 10p game or pop a pound into a mini game during the course of the Free one.
And the big companies are really cursed because once one big one does it than the others really have to follow suit for fear that the more loyal players will ‘defect’ to the other ‘freetastic’ site.
Winability in the online games is an issue as well and one that could deter some players if they become saturated with ‘free this’ and ‘free that’ offers. My experience of playing free games online have always been losing ones. Check the players involved box and generally the numbers are in the 4 figures…..then check the prize money and see that you are playing for £20 in total? That’s OK if you win, but wouldn’t you be better off spending a £1 in an adjoining room at the same time when there are only 40 players and your playing for £50? Silly question really, because as I mentioned earlier, the shrewd online player would sign in for the free game (sometimes even using other family members accounts as well…….you know who you are!) minimise that game and play in the other room as well. It would be interesting to see how many players actually sit and play the free games or just confirm there tickets and get up and make a cup of tea or go outside for a fag?
So, Online or bricks and mortar……I suppose it’s preference at the end of the day…online is easier to accommodate and quicker than actually investing a whole afternoon or evening in club….whereas for the more socially minded and value driven visiting and supporting your local bingo club could be more rewarding. My personal choice….in club bingo all the way….the online version is just too busy and after playing along without winning for the umpteenth time I just get the urge to get the tickets, ignore the game and go back to bejewelled blitz on facebook!!!! A free game of bingo down your local hall though is a much more interactive and rewarding experience. It gets you out of the house, most bingo clubs are generally less busy than a popular online free bingo site, and if you are lucky enough to win then you get the cash in your hand straight away!!!!
Feel free to post your own views on which you prefer…..it is FREE to do so don’t you know!!!