A brief history of online bingo

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

While bingo has experienced its fair share of ups and downs within its respective industries, it remains a game that has cemented itself in the history of various societies and cultures across the globe. Whether it is being played in land-based halls or online bingo sites, this exciting game allows players to both socialise and win money simultaneously. These two reasons alone provide the basis for its incredible popularity, but the evolution of bingo has certainly helped keep it among the top-played games.

The Evolution of Bingo

Bingo has come a long way since its origin, which is thought to have been in Italy in the 1500s, where it was known as “Il Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia” or “Italian Lottery.” As its popularity grew, bingo began to spread across Europe, making its way into France in the 1700s and then to Germany and the United Kingdom. 

At this point in time, there had been little evolution of the game, as it remained played with a pack of cards and tokens which proved to be a useful format for teaching young children about numbers and history.

However, across the next 200 years, as bingo travelled across America, we would begin to see new variations of the game. This included both round-numbered wooden discs being pulled from a cigar box and certain areas playing with dried beans before eventually arriving at the tumbler and ball format as we know and love today. 

Despite being around for close to 500 years at this point, the largest steps in bingo’s evolution would arrive in the latter stages when the internet and smartphone era got a grasp of this historic game. 

How Smartphones and The Internet Re-Shaped the Bingo Industry

Although the first online bingo site, “Bingo Zone”, was introduced in 1996, the online bingo industry had to wait until around 2005 before it began acquiring some serious traffic. At this stage, a vast number of online bingo sites started becoming readily available, and the introduction of smartphones would kick off the online bingo “craze”. 

The introduction and evolution of online bingo have helped grow and revamp the bingo industry, especially in the UK. With a new online presence, there has been a resurgence of bingo players who have a newfound enthusiasm for this beloved game. 

The rise of smartphones has had a direct effect on the gambling industry as a whole, with them adding a huge amount of accessibility to this industry. According to Statista, there are around 6.92 billion people that use a smartphone, giving people instant access to the gambling industry and, more specifically, to online bingo sites. 

Research held by the UK Gambling Commission states that over the last eight years, the number of online bingo players has risen to 300,000 from 50,000. This comes as no surprise with the increased availability and accessibility that both the internet and smartphones have created. 

The Decline of Land-Based Bingo

All eras come to an end is one mantra that sadly remains true in the land-based bingo industry, with bingo halls receiving fewer players every year. While you can still enjoy bingo at a number of land-based halls that are dotted around the country, they are slowly becoming less available as the years roll by. 

The rise of online bingo services is the leading cause of the reduction of bingo halls and the number of people attending these gambling establishments. Land-based bingo is unable to compete with the convenience that online bingo offers, as bingo players now have the option to enjoy a vast selection of bingo variations from wherever they happen to be. 

Another area that online bingo trumps its predecessor is with its prizes. Since online bingo sites have access to a larger audience and have more players paying for tickets, they are able to offer bigger prizes. 

With both better prizes available and the option to play from your home, there are little that bingo halls have to offer that can gain the attention of their long-lost bingo players. 

The Present State of Online Bingo

Online bingo continues to grow in popularity, with new sites, variations, and bonus features regularly appearing on the internet. In addition, many online bingo operators are improving the social aspects that online games feature, which is currently one area that arguably land-based halls have over its counterpart. 

Compared to the rest of the online gambling industry, online bingo has a long way to go in terms of its contributions to the remote gambling sector's Gross Gambling Yield (GGY). Out of the £6.4 billion GGY that was accrued from April 2021 to March 2022, remote bingo totalled £183.5 million, while online casino games dominated with £3.9 billion. 

There are currently over 100 million online bingo players across the globe, and with this number steadily increasing, we expect the online bingo industry to continue to develop. Whether that means new online bingo sites, additional game variations, or innovative features, one thing is for certain; online bingo has a limitless future.This article was written in cooperation with Harrison Score