There has been some iteration of bingo on the web since 1996. Since then, the game has exploded in popularity, usually taking its place alongside other, more hardcore ways to bet money for the chance of winning a prize. Some sites, like Jackpotjoy Bingo, provide weird and wonderful variants (like Bejeweled Bingo, pictured below) to spice things up. Others offer straight-ahead bingo and nothing else. Wherever you get your fix, one thing is certain: online bingo is a billion dollar industry.
The advantages that playing online has over the traditional bingo hall are manifold. It’s impossible to lose when you have a winning card – losing your concentration is not an issue in an automated game. Computerization has allowed for auto-daubing, meaning players can mark off numerous cards automatically.
1996: the Early Years
Widely accepted as the first major online bingo game, Bingo Zone was launched in 1996 to little fanfare. In order to participate, players were required to provide information about themselves, and targeted advertising – a new phenomenon for the fledgling web – was deployed to pay for the running of the site.
Bingo Blitz was hot on the heels of Bingo Zone. Like its forbear, Bingo Blitz required the user to download software in order to interact with other players. Online bingo had started gathering pace.
Advances in flash and browser technology allowed developers to incorporate chat functions into their games. Bonus incentives were built into marketing campaigns, and deposits became commonplace as a way to reduce advertising and increase the user experience. The level of competition in the market has encouraged developers to deploy ever-more imaginative ways in their search for cornering a share.
The online space has firmly wrested control of a classic game away from the inconvenience and expense associated with traveling to the nearest bingo hall. Instead of ‘two fat ladies’ and other such desultory phraseology, modern bingo games resound to the noise of two or three letters on clacked out on a keyboard: ‘gg’ (meaning ‘good game) and ‘wtg’ (meaning ‘way to go’), for example. The chat room upholds the social element of the game, and a new element of strategy comes into play when participants can analyse the popularity of specific rooms and make their decision on where to play on an informed basis.
Bingo has come a long way since the days of the converted dance hall. It’s new lease of life on the internet isn’t due to expire for a very long time.