It’s tempting to look back at the good old days and assume the seminal decade for bingo was the 1960s. The gaming industry has evolved significantly since then, and it seems as if the former institution has had its moment in the sun. In reality, the game is coming back with a bang.
Today, more than one million people are estimated to play, whether in clubs or online, and bingo also makes up a considerable part of a billion-pound gross gambling yield reported by the Gambling Commission. The 60s may have been the game’s crowning glory, but bingo’s renaissance dates back to 2014. Here’s why.
British Platforms for British Players
Before 2014, the world of remote gambling was somewhat unregulated. There were rules in place, yet they were quite vague, leaving the door open for different types of providers to make a killing from the market. This all changed when tweaks were made compelling operators who advertised and sold to British customers to hold a UK licence.
By sorting the weak from the strong, the industry was suddenly reliable and consistent than ever before. This helped the sector to flourish as the main contenders secured a firmer grip of the market and used their new shares to enhance the user experience. For instance, online bingo is unrecognisable to the 1960’s version of the game as players can now indulge in 75 and 90-ball bingo, bingo slots and bingo scratch cards. As a result, playing online bingo has never been easier since there is greater accessibility for users, and a wider range of offerings on the table, including progressive bingo where dabbers can get more bang for their buck.
Although reducing the number of platforms could have worked against the industry, in many ways, it has helped promote the game to an engaged audience that shows no signs of holding back.
Like any business, bingo providers must consider their expenses to make money. If outgoings are bigger than the money coming in, the company won’t survive. Unfortunately, several bingo organisations suffered from this in the 90s and early 2000s because the game wasn’t in their favour.
That all changed in 2014 when a massive expense was suddenly made much more palatable. The tax system docked the profits of traditional bingo halls by a significant margin compared to its rivals pre-2014. To put it into context, bingo platforms had to pay 20%, whereas the National Lottery and bookmakers paid 12% and 15% respectively.
Thankfully for a much-loved British pastime, it was halved to 10% to allow operators to provide offerings without having to worry about high overheads eating into their bottom lines.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) March 19, 2014
The Knock-on Effects
Usually, you have to wait to analyse whether the estimations were correct. In this case, we can look back at the growth of the game to see if the changes mentioned above were useful. A prime example is a rise in spending from 2014 to 2019, which reached £728 million from £690m, a jump of £38 million.
Also, modern versions have hit the mainstream, adding to the new chapter in bingo’s lifecycle. Mintel interviewed the Managing Director of Dabbers Bingo who said at the time that the gap in the market allowed the Dabbers brand to differentiate its products and services to compete with the two biggest providers.
Thanks to the likes of Dabbers and the many other platforms that are joining the fray, the effects of 2014 appear to be helping bingo go from strength to strength.