Will online bingo rooms wipe out bingo halls?
Recent research shows that it’s hard to argue against the idea that the popularity of online and mobile bingo rooms is having a significant impact on traditional, land-based bingo halls.
For instance, the 2016-17 Annual Report of the UK Gambling Commission reveals that in March 2017 there were 583 bingo halls in the UK, a 5.7% decrease from the previous year. Similarly, the market share of remote gambling in the UK, including bingo, is now up to 32%, demonstrating the increasing growth in popularity of all forms of online gambling.
The figures with regard to the growing popularity of online bingo specifically are also revealing, and suggest that online and mobile bingo operators are set to continue capturing an ever-increasing share of the market.
There are now more UK bingo sites to choose from than ever before (51 new sites came online in 2016 alone) and the playing demographic is also shifting significantly, with the number of players aged between 25-34 and 35-44 being the age range where figures have increased the most.
This is also accompanied by a growing commitment on the part of online bingo players, with almost a third of regular players saying that they play every day, and 80% at least once a week. The average online bingo session is between 1-3 hours for 55% of players, with some 11% playing regularly for more than four hours.
This growth in popularity of online bingo and the younger player demographic should, however come as no real surprise, as more and more of us live greater proportions of our lives online (for instance, 88% of homes in the UK now have a broadband connection). At the same time, all forms of online gambling would seem to have earned greater trust from the general public as a result of the formation of the UK Gambling Commission and the regulation that has been brought to the industry.
All of this would certainly suggest that online bingo is attracting players, in terms of numbers, demographics and accessibility, that land-based bingo halls are finding it hard to compete with.
It’s also important to consider the role that mobile bingo has played in the growing popularity of the online version of the game, with research showing that in the UK 58% of online bingo players have played using a smartphone or tablet, while 24% of all online bingo players exclusively use a mobile device to play. 42% of those who play online bingo do so across all platforms (e.g., phone, desktop, laptop, etc.), which shows that the accessibility of online games is also having an impact, as online and mobile bingo players can enjoy the game 24/7 and wherever they are, which contrasts sharply with the limitations inherent in land-based bingo.
In addition to this accessibility, mobile and online bingo players also have the opportunity to play other games in online bingo rooms (around 67% of UK online bingo players also play online slots regularly) and this sort of gaming choice and variety is another feature that traditional bingo halls aren’t able to offer.
Traditional bingo also has to try and counter the growing popularity of bingo in the social gaming realm, where those who enjoy the fun of playing bingo but don’t necessarily want to play for real money, are playing in increasing numbers.
Overall, therefore, it would appear that in the medium to longer term, traditional land-based bingo halls are undoubtedly facing a number of challenges, while the online bingo industry is on the up. As well as the many features highlighted above, online bingo rooms also offer a great deal of choice, with players being able to enjoy a variety of 90-ball and 75-ball versions, along with instant bingo games, and so moving forward land-based bingo halls are going to need to find new ways of offering players the variety and range of games online bingo players are increasingly coming to demand.