Can Big Bingo Chains Attract Online Players From Their Clubs?

Gala Bingo have just starting promoting an online bingo offer to their land based club members. Anyone who plays in their local club on the 25th of October 2012 will receive a bonus code that will enable them to access 10 hours of Free Superbooks, with £10,000 in prize money to be won at Galabingo.com.

That’s not a bad offer at all, as the key word is ‘free’, so, if a club player gives online bingo a go, and they don’t like it then they won’t have lost out – it’s a bit of a ‘win win’ situation. The thing is, trying to get local Gala Bingo club players online might be a bit of a challenge, which is probably why promotions of this kind are quite rare.

Patrons who play in clubs may be there for many reasons. Firstly, it gets them out of the house; it may not be a bus ride, or a car drive, but it will be at least a walk to the venue. In short, it more healthy (both physically and mentally) than strolling out of the kitchen, and into the lounge to turn on a laptop, and, people know this.

Club bingo is despite the ‘shushing’, a very ‘cultural experience’. People develop relationships with staff and other players over the years, and whilst perhaps not a family, there is definitely a sense of community (in the better clubs). Of course people play for the prizes, but there is much more to bingo halls than that. There is also a sense of ‘theatre’ that can never be replicated at an online bingo site.

Club players are familiar with their playing environment, and it may be a bit of a stretch to expect established local players to easily adapt to the online mode of playing. The very act of ‘dabbing’ the cards keeps players on their toes, something that would surely be missed with the online version of bingo. And it is a lot better for the mind than staring at a screen, which players will realise. We are not in any saying that club bingo is superior to online, but, it is a very different experience.

And, let’s not forget the ‘age demographics’. Currently many halls are trying to attract a younger audience and rid themselves of the game’s ‘blue rinse image’. If successful, a promotion like this is more likely to be taken up by the younger audience who have grown up with online technology. And if that is the case then clubs may be shooting themselves in the foot with a promotion of this kind. The bonus offer is more likely to taken up by the very age group that they should be trying to keep in the clubs, not tempting them away to play online.

The other demographic is one that we sometimes lament, the ‘blue rinse brigade’. But, it has to be admitted that there is an element of truth in the perceptions of the age of many players (although this does differ from club to club, region to region). This target group is unlikely to take up the offer, as they will have a ‘history’ with their club, and would most likely be disappointed at the online experience.

The online Gala Bingo site is one of our favourites, but, at the same time, we wouldn’t like to see a mass exodous from the clubs to the living room laptop. However, in this particular case, we don’t we’ve got much to worry about, as we’re guessing that even if there is a bit of take-up on the bonus offer it would not be large enough to have any real impact on club attendances.

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