Bingo is a simple game in concept. Players are issued with cards which contain a series of numbers. Numbers are selected at random and are announced, and if the player’s card contains that number then the number is marked. The first player to achieve a specific pattern of marked numbers, such as a line or ‘row’ of numbers, wins a prize. Generally play continues until additional patterns (for instance two lines and all the numbers on the card or a ‘full house’) have been achieved and prizes are awarded at every completed stage.
Bingo is played for cash prizes in bingo clubs, which are a type of specialist casino, and online. The online bingo market has experienced a rapid and sustained growth over the last decade, whist the fortunes of real bricks and mortar bingo clubs have experienced turbulent times with many of them being forced to close down.
There is no direct competition between live and online bingo, though it is likely that some players switched from the live version to the online one. On the other hand online bingo has encouraged many more people to play the game, and no doubt many of those who started playing online followed up the experience by visiting bingo clubs.
The decline of real bingo clubs is mainly due to changing lifestyles; people have different leisure time requirements to those that they had in the bingo clubs’ heyday; changing socioeconomic factors; people are paying off their credit cards rather than increasing the money owed on them; and the ban on smoking: just as public houses have suffered from declining profits as a result of the smoking ban, there is an almost identical correspondence with declining bingo club revenues.
Recently and to some extent the decline of bingo clubs has been reversed. This was achieved by extending the remit of the clubs so that they included many other entertainments in addition to bingo and developed a mere casino night club atmosphere.
Online bingo operators have also learned from the experience of bingo clubs at which a major attraction has always been the social aspects of the game. Online bingo rooms have incorporated sophisticated chat rooms where players can communicate with each other and with chat room hosts. These are very popular amongst the online bingo community.