Crossing the digital divide
This article will discuss:
- Game variation
Bingo halls began popping up in the UK in the 60s. After this, an industry came to life. Operators were offering weekly games, bragging huge prizes. Bingo rapdily became a beloved activity for UK people and their kin in the US. The result was the growth of a sustainable industry, capable of meeting the demands of millions of people on a yearly basis.
A natural progression since the birth of the internet has been a huge impact on leisure activities. The games market has completely changed. Digital products are forever being developed and evolving and thanks to this movement, bingo is now wildly popular online. With all the features of the much loved classic game, but created virtually for at-home or on-the-go playing, online bingo has grown to be one of the most prevalent mediums for players.
Nowadays bingo lovers have so much variety in their options. In order to truly understand the world of online bingo though, it’s key to compare and review it against physical bingo halls in the ways outlined above.
Physical bingo halls are dotted generously across the UK, Europe and the US. There are some well-known, and huge, bingo halls that people can play in. Sizes of the game span from this size to smaller community-based games. Sometimes open venues, when the weather allows.
In a typical bingo hall, three main elements can be expected. A cashier desk, a gaming floor and a stage for the caller. If you think about the theatrical element; the offline bingo experience is something that no online game can replicate. Being physically within a crowd of hundreds of fellow players, all aiming for the same prize together generates an electric atmosphere, felt by all.
There is interaction on the internet, but nothing even near this scale. It’s simply not possible to replicate. Online players can’t see their competitors, for a start. Some features have been added to facilitate interaction between people playing, but the focus for online bingo is typically the speed of a streamlined process. From buying a ticket for a game to withdrawing winnings, online bingo has a much more sleek process and is more convenient.
There are multiple options for playing; laptop, smartphone or tablet. A player can get a quick game in on the bus on the way to work. It’s a 24/7 accessible game, which opens it up widely to the whole world population!
In the physical venues, only two formats of bingo are usually found. 75 ball bingo and 90 ball bingo. Although bingo halls will sometimes offer a speed round between their main games, the tradition is to offer one of the aforementioned varieties.
As the online bingo industry attempts to mimic the features of a physical bingo hall, 75 and 90 ball bingo can also be found online. Because iGamers have a bigger scope to offer games (not being restricted by cost, equipment, staff, time and space), it means the online world can offer more variety.
Online bingo has a focus on speed. Bingo halls have a different audience; they’re there to have a social time as well as maybe win the jackpot. The operators, therefore, should find a balance between speed and timing to make sure every customer walks away feeling like they got the most value possible
Conversely, those playing online bingo love to dip in and out of the action at will. They have the best of both worlds. If they wish to enjoy a full evening of bingo, they can do so. They could play a new game every minute if they wanted. There’s a contrast in cultural behaviours and desires and online bingo can meet these by offering quicker variants like 30 or 50 ball bingo.
Additionally to the variation on the classic bingo game, (cards and numbered balls), online providers have developed their own unique games. Derived from bingo, but having a different edge. Games like SNAP where a deck of cards is used instead of balls) brings a whole new innovative dimension.
As stated already, online bingo is built for rapid succession and bingo halls are designed for longer, more interactive games. Players’ different expectations when playing at a bingo hall (a night out, full of hours of entertainment) or online (quick fire money-making) has facilitated this culture of instant gratification online.
It’s very difficult to assign similarities to the two mediums. It’s a rule of thumb that online bingo is three times as fast as bingo at a hall. An efficient bingo caller can call one number in ten seconds. An online caller will produce a number every 3.
Because online games are governed by a random number generator (RNG), the call rate is consistent. Human beings can be distracted, lose their concentration or need a break during a game, all slowing the pace. Furthermore, as all the wins verified instantly and automatically by the system, there’s no need to pause the action online for too long. Checking a bingo call in a bingo hall can take around 5 minutes.
On average, a night down the bingo hall will cost £20. This includes a couple of game tickets, food and a drink.
Online bingo providers have less physical presence and lower staffing costs. Their reduced overheads give them the opportunity to offer some very cheap games. There are some that can match a physical bingo hall game at around £5. A typical game of online bingo will cost £1. This lower average in comparison is down to the cost of a game being around £0.05. More, online bingo can be played for free. A new player can gain access to a selection of limited-time free games.
All bingo halls host their own games with a variety of jackpots. The most typical way bingo works is having the prizes on offer as a summation of buy-ins collated. Meaning, prizes fluctuate a lot, in either medium, when a jackpot cannot be guaranteed.
At a bingo hall, the most popular game in the UK is the national one. It happens Friday through to Sunday. The game connects players over the country via a telephone system. The result on the prizes is that they’re much bigger, thanks to the huge volume of participation. The rules of the national game state the regular prize offered cannot be more than £25k, however, the jackpot can reach £250k.
The jackpot prizes for online bingo can be significantly higher. There is a plethora of guaranteed prizes, but for a lot of players the allure if the progressive jackpot game. Common to online slots, a progressive jackpot takes a tiny percentage of the player’s buy-ins and adds it to a cumulative communal pot. So, if a game costs £1p and the operator can take 10% (10p) and add that to the progressive jackpot.
Via this method, thousands of players’ buy-ins get added to the jackpot every hour and the result is a huge jackpot that has grown exponentially and will often reach the hundreds of thousands level. Sometimes millions.
Earlier in the article, it was explained that physical bingo is more social and interactive than online bingo, simply because of the set-up. Bingo was formed as a cheap game designed to facilitate community entertainment. Online providers have never been able to fully-satisfy this in their digital offerings.
The best attempt is the chat rooms. Players can send messages to one another, perhaps offer advice or simply have a gossip. In themed bingo, winners can pick between two unknown prizes and their opponents can vote which they should go for. It creates this sense of community.
Benefits of Online Bingo
- HUGE jackpots
- Available 24/7
- Available at home or on the go, on most devices
- HUGE variety of games and themes
- New player bonuses
- Generally more and bigger variety of bonuses
- Numbers are never missed with auto-daubing
- Opportunity to pre-purchase tickets
- Free play available
- Instant payout
- Connect with opponents in the chat rooms
Benefits of a Bingo Hall
- Wonderful night out with friends
- Eat, drink and be merry!
- Enjoy the classic, physical game
- Get your dauber out!
- Extra fun games like tombola or raffles
Cons of Online Bingo
- People can find it hard to learn or get into
- Some people are intimidated by being online
- Risk of having personal and financial data stolen
- Payment processing time can take a while
Cons of a Bingo Hall
- Limited game variety – Usually 75 or 90 ball bingo only
- Only available at certain times and days
- Possibility of human error
- You have to shout loudly to claim your win!
- Tickets can be more expensive
- Restricted if you can’t physically get to the venue
So, what are the actual differences between online bingo and playing at a bingo hall? The concept is largely the same, at the heart of it. The experience of online bingo, despite developers working in the best features of physical bingo into their digital version, still differs hugely.
Bingo halls are known for being more social, but online games are brimming with opportunity to interact with fellow players and enjoy their online company.
There has been a decline in physical bingo halls, largely due to the uptake of online bingo. The UK indoor smoking ban didn’t help, either! Over the last ten years, sites have seen more traffic and have been offering more features, more games, better bonuses. With the rise of better apps and improved devices to download them to, online bingo has soared high.
The bingo hall is still going, and you’ll likely be able to find some thriving in the country, and the fact that both mediums can live in harmony can only ever be a good thing for bingo lovers all over.