Whilst the game has faced a number of challenges throughout the years, from harsh gambling laws and restrictions on UK betting and gambling venues, to cultural and age related stigmas which have clung to the game, Bingo seems to have been incredibly resilient over the years. In fact it seems bingo is now more popular than tennis with around 1.7m Brits playing tennis every month, compared to 1.9m monthly bingo players in Britain.

So how has bingo remained so popular? Let’s take a deep dive into the bingo industry throughout the past few decades… 

The early years of bingo

The first recorded game of bingo in the UK took place in 1838 and throughout this century the game became popular with the military communities. During this time, games based on odds were often picked up by the navy as they travelled to the far corners of the globe. Here they would be introduced to a variety of forms of bingo played in the Maltese and Mexican communities and it was these games that began to introduce a set of standards and rules, as well as the addition of game cards and markers. 

Fast-forward a few centuries and bingo began to pick up in mainstream British communities. With the introduction of popular TV channels such as ITV in the 1950’s people began to find more entertainment from their home rather than within public spaces such as cinemas and dance halls. As these venues began to decline, the game of bingo was trialled in an attempt to bring back the masses, and it worked! 

A reform in the law in 1961 meant that betting and gambling for small sums became legal within licenced public venues. This meant there was a sudden surge in the number of bingo halls popping up throughout the UK with the likes of the Odeon cinema and Gaumont Theatre transforming their premises into bingo venues. From here, bingo became a part of UK history. 

From Table to tablet 

The 2000’s were a dramatic turning point for the bingo industry and introduced a great deal of growth and potential to the sector. The online version of bingo had all of the same features of the original game, yet it became much more interactive, innovative and enticing to British audiences. 

As technology has increased and become more and more affordable over the last two decades, operators have been able to offer more to customers, from movie themes, to dedicated bingo apps that can be accessed at the click of a button. Most of the success in bingo popularity throughout this time can be attributed to digital platforms.  

So what made online bingo so popular

Game Variety – 

Whilst traditional bingo varied In terms of 75, 80 and 90 ball bingo, online bingo varied by way of themes, characters, mini games, prizes and multi-player games.

Bingo Communities – 

Statistics show that of the 3.5 million bingo players in the UK, 4 out of 5 are stay at home moms. With the addition of online shat forums, and bingo communities, people who were otherwise unable to socialise during the day were introduced to a new way of mingling with others from the comfort of their own home. These communities helped to grow the popularity of bingo by bringing together fans of the game and even creating a fan culture. 

A new set of eyes

When you think of bingo, you may imagine groups of middle-aged women heading off to the local bingo hall for a Saturday night session. However, far from ‘all the 8’s,88’, in an attempt to stay current and maintain their industry success, operators have had to think outside the box in order to start appealing to the younger generations. 

In recent years, many indoor venues including bingo, mini golf, darts, ping pong and escape rooms have all started cashing in on the drive to immerse young people in these traditional activities. These venues have undergone changes from rebranding to becoming an immersive experience rather than just a venue. 

Far from the cry of the dilapidated 60’s bingo halls, bingo players can now expect to find digital games on interactive tablets, meaning players never have to miss another number again. Accompanying this are usually fully stocked bars, table service and even a live DJ .

Checking out the competition

Whist the number of physical bingo venues is now declining, the rate at which online operators are cropping up is phenomenal. As of today, 300,000 people have now switched to online gambling, meaning there is no shortage of customers. Wanting to get in on the success, more and more operators are moving to online sites and apps in which there is now a huge variety of platforms. 

The rise in the number of platforms has made it increasingly difficult for consumers to figure out which sites to invest their hard earnt pennies in. Luckily for the bingo fans, there are now a variety of bingo affiliates such as BingoPort, which provide consumers with a comprehensive guide to which bingo sites give the best deals and experiences. 

Is it here to stay?

With the amount of people now invested in playing online bingo, it seems the industry is firmly on the route to success. Whilst physical venues are still declining, the rate at which apps are being developed and new technologies are enabling remote communities and groups of people to access such platforms, means that there are many successful years ahead and it will be interesting to see what new way the industry will come up with to keep future generations playing.