There are some things we love to have as part of our social fabric, but we (sadly) don’t use anymore. Blockbuster. Phone booths. Toys ”R” Us. The DeLorean. Bingo seemed to be heading the same way, with bingo halls closing their doors faster than you could open them. Journalists were already excitedly penning the obituaries for the seemingly ever-present game.
Except Bingo isn’t facing extinction anymore. Journalists, put your articles on ice. Because the old-school classic is refusing to kick the bucket, and is currently even experiencing a renaissance like no other. Both offline and online. Here’s the scoop.
Bingo suffered from a bit of a PR nightmare in recent years. It started to become synonymous with retirement communities, and games for people hitting 80+. And while we’re not proposing any sort of ageism, it does hit the game’s popularity when only a small proportion of the population tends to play it.
In 2023, however, the game is enjoying a 180-degree makeover, spearheaded by the iGaming explosion. Casino operators understand that there is nothing wrong with the core of the game, it’s fun for everyone. That’s why it’s managed to stick around for hundreds of years.
But now it’s modern, cool, a universal game, not an OAP-only option. The game has been given a fresh lick of paint, with casinos also investing in additional gaming options, live casinos (with an in-person dealer through a video link), and a bunch of generous offers to keep the punters joining.
What’s also setting online bingo apart now is the sheer amount of choice. With operators able to serve thousands of users concurrently, all from different parts of the world, gamers can pick from different bingo games.
For example, online bingo at SkyCity goes beyond your standard 75-ball and 90-ball varieties (though those are still super popular). Boom Box bingo is one of the alternative gaming options, and is one of the most popular revitalized versions of an 80s classic, giving players a fast-paced session that’s perfect for a commute.
Players don’t need to commit an entire night’s gameplay to get a full cycle in. It’s now super easy to simply play in short bursts, perfect for the TikTok generation that likes things in short and sweet packages.
Overall, bingo is also riding shotgun to overall market trends. The online casino industry is growing at an unprecedented pace, with the estimated total market value standing at $63+ billion. In 2030, that number is expected to exceed $150 billion.
Bingo has always been known as a fun game, for the community, a family affair, rather than something to do with mates on a wild Friday night. Until now.
In London, for example, there is a new bingo hall known as Hijingo. It’s nothing like the high street halls of yesteryear and offers punters what can perhaps best be described as a Tron meets Asian-inspired bar. It’s just one of several trendy establishments centred around bingo popping up all over major cities in Europe and beyond.
The game is also enjoying increased interest through what’s known as ‘competitive socializing’, a new way of getting together that beats board game nights at your friend’s house.
Essentially, these are bars/eating establishments coupled with some age-old traditional games. Think shuffleboard, arcade games, table tennis and, of course, bingo.
The games stand at the core of the concept, but are perhaps also secondary to the whole experience. The idea is to get people together to eat, drink, listen to music, and enjoy each other’s company without ‘just’ going to a local pub or restaurant. It’s adding something extra, something innovative, that changes the entire experience.
Many companies are using games like bingo to get staff members together, for example. With 2020 driving a new work-from-home trend and a shrinking of CBD office space, it’s the perfect platform to improve connections with clients and colleagues. The proof is in the pudding: Red Engine, which owns several of these establishments, has seen record profits to the tune of £68m.
Bingo’s obituary has been written many times over. Yet the game is still alive and kicking, even though it’s almost 500 years old. Not only that, it’s absolutely thriving, with new players joining daily.
The key is in the ability to reinvent itself. Bingo has done that, now catering to a wider audience and in different forms. When the bread and butter of the game is still true to itself, all you need to do is add a little bit extra to remind people why the game is so much fun.
Bingo is here to stay for some time yet. With iGaming still experiencing its early days, the growth potential is enormous. The overall industry is expected to grow by 10% year-on-year. Industry analysts predict that bingo will continue riding that wave.