Whilst it’s great to be back, there’s a lot of stuff that we’ve missed the last couple of years in the bingo world. I thought I’d mention a few things that have struck me in my absence, but that I’ve not had the platform here to celebrate / moan about. Here’s a few things that I will no doubt come back to in coming months to do with the world of bingo.
Perhaps the biggest thing is that despite an ongoing programme of closures, retail bingo is still here and still going strong, albeit with a lot less venues than when we last spoke. Our new Club Finder currently has about 415 clubs listed in it. When the site started there were about 600 clubs in the UK. A lot have closed and we’ve no doubt not managed to find all the UK bingo clubs out there, but it seems things are beginning to stabilise.
Retail bingo is still out-gunning its upstart online rival with around 200,000 bums on seats at peak times. Online bingo has grown, but even now it can’t get anywhere near those sort of figures for total players online, despite the fact there’s three quarters as many bingo sites online as there are clubs we have listed. I’ve not seen recent figures, but there’s now more than 300 online sites out there targeting UK bingo players, and no signs of that number dropping soon. At the last count there we around 20,000 online players at peak times, and by my estimates, I doubt that figure have gone much beyond the 30,000 mark myself, so it still has a long way to go to beat retails pull despite the nearly carpet bombing presence bingo sites have in the UK’s ad breaks.
With talk in Government circles of tighter licensing and the need for UK sites to have UK gaming licenses, there are big changes ahead in the long term that could see the likes of Gibraltar and Malta no longer able to service providers who face the UK, which as I’ve mentioned in the past is a good thing, given the way sites licensed in those jurisdictions have been treating bingo players (self included.) There’s nothing firm yet, but mutterings and whisperings would suggest that change is coming in the next few years.
The online world has continued to innovate in this time away, and new sites with unique offerings are popping up all over the place. I think the best of the pick would be BingoCams with its unique players on camera approach.
As for Land Bingo, I can see there being a lot if issues in the coming years with their use of electric bingo terminals, and especially any claims the land bingo is more proactive in encouraging responsible gambling when these terminals encourage people to pay more and play more tickets. The general consensus amongst non-ebingo players would be that the machines should go or be limited to the same ticket restrictions as book players, ie, one set of 6 only. Personally, I’m in agreement.
And there was lots of takeover and restructuring news of interest, most noteworthy being the Guoco takeover of Rank, and the farcical back and fore about whether it was a takeover or not and who was in charge. I ended up selling my shares just because it was getting too confusing to follow! The online world has been rife with takeovers to, and mergers, and closures, and more. UK leading gaming network Cashcade became a part of Party.Bwin, itself a merged company. Joy Of Bingo became a part of 888 and bingo affiliates have been trying to figure out where to send the invoices ever since.
And finally, after all these years of promise, it would seem that mobile bingo is finally taking off. It’s still confusing and platform dependent, but there are already a number of good mobile bingo rooms available for those that fancy a game on the go. Chief amongst them in my opinion is mFortune / MMM Bingo, who’s mobile rooms consistently offer a great combination of ticket prices and good prizes, a must for any bingo. They’re also one of the few bingo sites that are UK licensed, and currently only offer a mobile version of the game. Mecca Bingo and their mobile bingo app also is worth note as it nicely bridges the gap between online and mobile play, providing a mobile interface to their online service.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot more than I’ve even mentioned here. Which is usually the way, but going forward I’ll be trying to keep abreast of things and share my often unwanted opinions on the matters in hand.