For many years, bingo was associated with church halls, the older generation, and frankly some rather naff prizes. As other gambling games gained traction, bingo was seen as the less exciting, less engaging relative, who had lost touch with the wants and needs of its player base. The transition into the online world though has seen major changes to bingo, reinvigorating it and seeing its popularity begin to rise again. Around 3.5 million people play bingo in bingo halls, land-based casinos, and online in the UK on a regular basis.
In 2015, millennials made up 17% of bingo players. By 2017 this had increased to 25%, and this has continued to increase. Those aged 18-44 account for over half of all bingo patrons in the UK with 25-34 being the most common age range of those who play online bingo. In part, this is because the shift online is instantly more attractive to younger individuals who are more willing and able to adapt to new technology. Shifts in player habits are also an important factor in this, as younger players tend to hop in and out of games and will play bingo online to pass the time whilst doing something else but would never have actively sought out a bingo hall.
While generally speaking, men dominate the online world, online bingo is very much a female space, with over 75% of bingo players being female. This has decreased in the last couple of years as more men have started playing but it is still predominantly women who play. A man however still holds the record for the biggest bingo win of all time, at £5.9 million in 2012, compared to the £3.4 million won by a woman.
So why is bingo so popular among women?
Playing bingo online can be a way for women to connect with like-minded individuals and the chat room functionality offered allows for private chats as well as discussion in groups. Forums are also very popular, allowing people to share ideas and start discussions tailored towards specific topics.
Research shows that the traditional bingo player is female, married, and with kids; 4 out of 5 regular players are stay at home mums according to research, and the nature of bingo allows for light-hearted entertainment and a chat with friends. Playing bingo is not just an opportunity to gamble and win money but can be a fun evening ‘out’ with friends.
Bingo is a low risk, low skill, low investment game. Women enjoy the thrill of the flutter but do not have to spend loads of money to have fun. It is ideal for people with families and other responsibilities whilst still allowing for fun and games. Bingo is also associated with charities and local community events, and offers a contrast to the more competitive and cut-throat casino games. Although by its very nature, if someone wins all other players automatically lose (though some online games to offer smaller prizes for second, third and fourth places (and so on) the fact that it is luck based means that no one can purposely scupper their opponents, and when someone wins there are no feelings of animosity.
Simple and fun
There is no skill involved in bingo, and the minimal requirements to play mean that it can be played almost anywhere, as long as there is a caller, bingo cards and numbers, or if online just a device, and app or website, and a half decent internet connection. It is a great game to connect friends who live apart, of for sociable games nights, as well as for fundraisers and other events.
Many online bingo sites like Wink Bingo contribute to that fun of a game of bingo by offering players bonuses and prizes including sign-up bonuses and rewards for loyalty!
Branding and advertising
As bingo has traditionally always been a woman’s game, operators have always aimed their marketing at women. The number of operators who use traditional ‘girl’ colours like pinks, purples and pastels is overwhelming, and most feature words like ‘beautiful’, ‘smooth’, and ‘friendly’, where websites aimed at men usually have strong blues, blacks and steel greys, peppered with words such as ‘strong’, ‘powerful’, and ‘brave’.
Even the page layout and choice of font is powerful. Bingo sites will usually have images/pictures of women playing, with manicured hands shown, and usually pictures of animals are cute and appealing. Adverts shown online or on TV will usually depict women playing, with a female voice over.
Men in Bingo
Though dominated by women, more men have started playing online bingo over the last few years. Between 2015 and 2017, the number of male players increased by 7%, to 25% of the player base. Some men have been afraid of being seen as less than manly and have shied away from bingo halls. Being able to play online offers some anonymity and has seen numbers increase. Scientific research also shows that playing bingo can increase cognitive function and ability, attracting more people, including men, to bingo.
Operators are also slowly coming round to the idea of men playing bingo, and have started to take steps to target their marketing and websites to men, often placing adverts in places men traditionally gamble.
Whilst still traditionally associated with the older female generation, the move online has reinvigorated bingo and is providing operators with a world of opportunities to diversify their offerings and attract a new, more diverse audience.