The Decline of Bingo Halls and the Rise of Online Bingo


image of a bingo hall

Bingo has been enjoyed in the UK for centuries, but over time, it’s gone through some dramatic transformations...

For most of the last century, the main venues to play the game were bingo halls. With a bingo hall in practically every town in the country, they became important social hubs in many communities. Up until 2005, new bingo halls were being opened across the UK every single year.

Since then, however, this trend has been reversed. In 2005, there were close to 600 bingo halls in the UK. In 2014, there were fewer than 400. Over the space of less than a decade, a third of the UK’s bingo halls had closed. In the same period, however, online bingo began to flourish. By 2012, the UK online bingo market was worth a staggering £259 million. But why has online bingo managed to succeed where traditional bingo has been failing?

Generation game

Clipart image of an old lady playing bingoLet's face it: when you think of a bingo hall, you probably imagine a room full of older ladies - and you wouldn't be far wrong. According to the BBC, the average age in a bingo hall in 2016 is around 61 or 62 (with around three-quarters being female). 

We all know the stereotypes: there might be a bit of chat between games, but during the game itself, the room is expected to sit in stony silence, at the risk of some seriously judgemental glares from regulars. True or not, it’s not exactly the kind of reputation that’s likely to attract many young newcomers.

The audience for online bingo, however, is significantly younger. 20% of UK online bingo players are aged 18-24, and the majority (62%) are under 45. Online bingo offers younger players the chance to talk to people their own age. Gone is the stuffy atmosphere of the bingo hall: you can play in the comfort of your own home, and in-play chat is actively encouraged.

More connections

In their heyday, bingo halls were more than just a place to play – they were also an important place for friends to meet, and a hive of social activity. It might be hard to imagine how online bingo could replace that – but ask any player, and it’s clear how online bingo has every bit as much community spirit as a hall.

Online bingo gives people the chance to play alongside old friends, as well as making some new ones. These new friendships (and even romances!) are a common feature of online bingo – for many players, the bingo community is like a family.

Easy to access

image of mobile bingo and smartphone

The vast majority of UK homes have internet access, meaning that for most people, a game of bingo is just a few clicks away. Plus, with 76% of UK adults owning smartphones, it’s easier than ever to play bingo on-the-go.

This easy access to bingo makes it much more likely that new players will come and try the game out. After all, it can be quite intimidating setting foot in a bingo hall for the first time. Playing online, meanwhile, only takes a few minutes: it’s quick, easy, painless, and you can chat as much as you like! It’s got a heap of benefits.

For many of us, day-to-day life is extremely busy, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to pop down to a local bingo hall and play. Quick access to online bingo, however, means you can play a quick game at home, on the bus, or on your lunch break. How good is that?

For more information, check out the top reasons why you should be playing online bingo right now.

Money, money, money

Okay, money isn’t everything. But in a game like bingo, the chance to win big is part of the thrill. Online bingo certainly offers some huge cash prizes – remember Christine Johnstone, who won £1.3 million overnight playing Sky Bingo? These huge prizes are something that traditional bingo halls just can’t match – especially since, as a recent Vice article notes, the prizes in bingo halls aren’t what they used to be.

It might be tempting to think of online bingo as just a business, and that bingo halls have the community feel. Surprisingly, it might actually be the other way around. Bingo halls have put off some lifelong players by becoming too money-focused.

Meanwhile, online bingo has managed to attract more players, in part thanks to the tight-knit communities found in the chat rooms.

Is the bingo hall dead?

With the rise and rise of online bingo, it might seem inevitable that the traditional way of playing will soon be lost for good. Not so fast. New, alternative forms of real-life bingo, such as Bongo’s Bingo in Manchester and Liverpool and Rebel Bingo in London, are taking an irreverent approach to the game, and attracting a younger crowd in the process. Imagine a rave, with a few shouts of “eyes down” thrown in. Not your typical mix, but it’s introducing a new generation to the game.

Whether you play at an alternative bingo night, a traditional bingo hall, or whether you’re one of the millions coming to online bingo, it’s clear that bingo is as popular as ever. Playing through BingoPort helps make playing even more rewarding… why not visit us to find out how. 

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