How the British Bingo Industry is Embracing Technology
In 1960 the Betting and Gambling Act was passed by parliament, and somewhere within that legislation lay monumental news for bingo.
13:49 02 July 2019
The popular British pastime that had previously only been used for fundraising purposes was from that point on, fully legalised as a countrywide gambling activity.
Over the coming decades bingo would go on to become a gambling behemoth, at its peak reaching membership figures of 14 million just three years after the Betting and Gambling Act of 1960.
At the turn of the Millennium the outlook for bingo was much bleaker. Overall membership figures were down almost 90% on the rates of the ‘Swinging Sixties’. The industry was in need of change, change which fortunately came in the form of technology.
The internet has reinvigorated the formerly struggling British bingo industry, with over 3.5 million players registered with bingo sites UK focussed. Although overall membership figures are still some way off the 1963 peak, double digit year on year growth suggests bingo could reach, or even surpass its previous popularity levels.
But what exactly has driven the revival of this Great British pastime? What technological advancements specifically brought bingo back into the public consciousness? Read on to find out.
Almost every industry in the world can look back to the early nineties with fondness and reminisce how the internet excelled their business offering. Those feelings are felt strongest in the gambling industry, a sector that has benefitted enormously from the accessibility and reach of the internet.
Bingo was a benefactor of the internet as is highlighted by the plethora of online bingo sites that were set-up in the noughties. But it wasn’t the internet per se that was responsible for the revival of bingo, it was another technological development…
Apple CEO Steve Jobs changed the world in June 2007 when he announced the release of the very first iPhone to a frenzied crowd. The phone was the very first of its kind, a smartphone that incorporated all the traditional trappings of a phone with the power of a small, internet enabled computer.
Fast forward three years and almost everyone in the modern world had a smartphone, largely thanks to Apple’s biggest competitors Android. This technological advancement had the biggest impact of any on the bingo industry.
Online bingo sites that had been plodding away fairly successfully now had a new way to reach their customers. Some of the biggest names in online bingo invested staggering sums into the development of industry leading mobile apps.
In 2008, one year after the release of the first iPhone, only 50,000 people in the UK played online bingo. As mentioned earlier in the article, that figure has now breached 3.5 million, 77% of which play bingo on their smartphone.
The spread of 3G and 4G network service brought about the possibility of playing bingo on the move, anywhere and anytime. That seemed to fit in perfectly with the busy lifestyles of bingos key target demographic.
Slot sites, casino sites and sports betting sites may well all have the internet to thank for their prominence and success, whilst bingo is undoubtedly indebted to the smartphone for its continuing popularity.
The Battle for Relevance
It would be easy for the online bingo industry to rest on its laurels and look back at its recent success with an air of satisfaction. Industry experts however are well aware that to do that would be suicidal.
With every passing year, month and week there are new technological advances in every major industry around the world. Bingo has already seen what can happen when as a collective it does not embrace change and innovation.
No one within the bingo industry is keen to return to the pre-technology wilderness years when bingo was constantly battling for its last breath. That’s why some of the biggest names in online bingo are looking at these new ways to remain relevant and attractive to potential new customers.
Back in 2009 when SourceForge hosted the world’s first bitcoin transaction, the idea of crypto currency was alien to the general public. Ten years on and the image of crypto currency has changed dramatically, thanks largely to the explosion in value of bitcoin in recent years.
These new currencies are more than just a long-term investment. New, independent crypto currencies are becoming recognised methods of payment for conscientious and savvy individuals.
Some of the world’s major cities are rolling out their own licensed crypto currencies to encourage people to shop local and in order to boost local economies. Just like most other online gambling sectors, the remote bingo market is making advancements towards facilitating crypto currency transactions.
At time of writing there are only plans to accept existing forms of crypto currency, but there could come a time when online bingo sites allow players to game with their very own crypto currency.
The experience of the traditional bingo hall is often derided. Smoky rooms inhabited by OAP’s are what come to mind when we think of bingo halls, but industry leaders want to change this association and to change it via Virtual Reality.
Bingo halls that wouldn’t look out of place amongst the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas strip are the ambition of existing bingo companies. Renovating, opening and running a venue like this would prove costly to developers though, so instead there are plans to open virtual reality bingo halls of this ilk.
Right now serious money is being spent by bingo companies on research to see if they can make virtual reality into, well, a reality in the coming years. Virtual reality bingo halls would be the final step in the transformation of bingo from an ageing pastime to a cutting edge, technologically futuristic game.
VR and AR are not expected to be implemented in the gambling industry or bingo sector for a good couple of years. But rest assured, when they become common place bingo will most likely reach its previous popularity levels of the 1960s.