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Bingo is Back and Kent University Wants to Know Why

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Bingo” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  Gerry Dincher 

Cast your minds back to the sixties and if you were of a certain age (18+) then you probably enjoyed a game of bingo on a Friday and Saturday night or, at the very least, you knew somebody that did.

Despite its historical roots stretching back to 16th century Italy and a lottery-style game known as Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia, bingo became a British pastime during the First World War. After American toymaker Edwin Lowe standardised a set of rules and changed the name from beano to bingo in the twenties, players across the UK couldn’t get enough of putting their eyes down for a shot at some extra money.

Indeed, by the time we’d managed to negotiate two world wars, there were more than 1,000 bingo halls in the UK. In fact, by the time the UK Gambling Act of 1968 imposed regulations on the betting industry, everyone was bingo’ing crazy, to coin a popular phrase. However, fast-forward a few decades and the game was on the decline.

Increased taxation and a general lack of interest among young gamblers caused the number of bingo halls in the UK to drop from 600 in 2005 to less than 400 in 2014. Fortunately, as with so many trends, bingo is now enjoying the same sort of renaissance as skinny jeans and turtle necks.

Internet Breathes New Life into Bingo

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I found the internet!” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  abraham.williams 

Why would youngsters be inclined to play a game they’d normally associate with their grandparents? The Internet. According to Kent University’s Bingo Project, the game is becoming ” increasingly popular online” and it’s now time to focus more research and discussion on the reinvigoration of the industry.

On a global scale, online gaming is an industry worth more than £27 billion. Offering a simple, efficient and affordable way for players to enjoy bingo, sports betting, poker and casino games, iGaming is now big business and 32Red Bingo is one operator that’s embraced this cultural shift. Taking a once mundane activity and injecting it with a vibrancy that clicks with a generation brought up on instant entertainment, 32Red Bingo is just one site among a myriad of modern options for players.

Operating on the principles of availability, familiarity and variety, members can ante-up from as little as £0.01 on the site’s Penny Jackpot bingo games or play for progressive jackpots and monthly Bingo Bonanza bonuses by placing real money bets throughout the month.

New Setting, New Image

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Bingo Balls” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  secretlondon123 

Beyond bingo, the new generation of virtual bingo halls also contains an array of hooks to keep players entertained. Sun Bingo, the official online platform of the British red-top paper, is stocked with slots of all shapes and sizes. From Starburst to Cleopatra, players can break up a bingo session with a few spins that could unlock six-figure jackpots.

Alongside this availability and variety, operators have also tapped into a younger market through the use of celebrity endorsements. Indeed, bgo Bingo has enlisted the services of Paris Hilton and Verne Troyer in order to create a sense of familiarity and, importantly, bring some glamour to the game. This sense of familiarity is also on display inside each site’s roster of games. Going back to 32Red Bingo, players can play movie themed slots such as Bridesmaids, while Crown Bingo customers can enjoy a round of Deal or No Deal Bingo.

According to the stats there are now more than 350 online bingo sites in the UK alone and, by 2019, it’s expected that we will spend £30 million more each year playing bingo than we currently do. However, as Kent University’s Bingo Project notes, the industry can only continue to grow through research and regulation.

Kent University Leading the Bingo Charge

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Design Research Jungle” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  jeanbaptisteparis 

While the centre’s current research has found that online bingo is becoming an increasingly popular activity in the UK and beyond, it’s still an “under-researched” part of the gambling industry. Fortunately, the Kent University Bingo Project is aiming to change this through a series of studies, debates and conferences looking at various aspects of the industry from regulation around the world to player participation. Reconvening on 23 and 24 June 2016 for the latest Bingo Project Conference, the organisation will consider the game on a global scale.

In fact, as the online game begins to permeate other cultures, countries such as Mexico and Chile are starting to form a larger part of the overall bingo demographic. Capitalising on players’ familiarity with traditional games such as Loteria in Mexico (a game using artistic cards containing numbers similar to bingo), bingo sites are now attracting a whole new set of players. Moreover, in countries where live bingo is still popular – such as Chile with its thriving bingo hall scene based inside its 17 casinos – the online game is offering players a new way to ante-up.

In a nutshell, bingo is a game that’s on the up. Thanks to the magic touch of the Internet, more people are able to engage with the game in a new and exciting way, and that’s driving up interest. Whether or not this increase in popularity can be sustained remains to be seen. However, if The Bingo Project by Kent University is able to have any impact, it’s possible we’ll see bingo enjoy as much popularity as it did in the sixties and seventies.

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