Why Bingo is Appealing to Younger Gamers
Akin to many of the most popular and classic games, bingo has undergone something of a revolution during the last decade or so, reaching out to a broader audience of players than ever before.
The Beginnings of Bingo
The origins of bingo date back as far as 1530 when Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia was created, the first Italian National Lottery. The popularity of lotto games spread quickly throughout Europe and eventually to all corners of the globe. The lotto game most akin to modern bingo originated in late 18th century France, with the printing of numbered cards featuring the numbered rows we’re familiar with today.
As the game spread west to the United States, there was a rise in popularity during the 1920s at fairs and carnivals, where lotto-styled games were a regular attraction. Most often credited with creating modern bingo, a toy salesman from New York named Edwin S. Lowe spotted a lotto game being played at a carnival in Jacksonville, Georgia, which led to him developing the game further.
Due to players placing beans on numbers as they were called, this gave Lowe the idea of “Beano” as a suitable name for his adapted game. However, when demonstrating the game to friends in his apartment, one of the guests apparently cried “Bingo!” by mistake, forever changing how the game would subsequently be known.
Interestingly, Lowe never patented the game or “bingo” as a trademark, despite building a very successful company around his version, however, he did later patent the modern bingo card design. This design has since formed the basis for the traditional layout of bingo cards, right up to those used in bingo halls around the world.
Nevertheless, as recently as the 1990s, bingo had the image of being a game traditionally played by elderly people. Bingo was also seen an activity confined to stuffy bingo halls and seaside amusements, or as a game played at social clubs, fairs and church fundraisers. Such a stereotypical view of bingo arguably caused stagnation in the game’s popularity over time.
Bingo in the Digital Age
We often take for granted how much technological advances over the last few decades have changed our lives, particularly insofar as how we entertain ourselves. Most people now have instant access to high-speed internet connections home, along with smartphones and tablets when they are on the move, bringing us a digital world of entertainment that we can easily access, whenever and wherever we desire.
While older generations are still adapting to the rapidly advancing technologies, younger generations have quite literally been born to their availability. We can now watch movies on demand, enjoy live sporting events from anywhere around the world, or play a host of online games. The latter activity has grown phenomenally over the last twenty years, with millions of people playing online games at any moment of the day.
Online gaming as an industry has boomed in recent years, covering a wide variety of genres and niches. Figures via Statista show that in 2019, there are just over 694 million people worldwide playing online games, with this figure expected to reach almost 800 million by 2022. The industry is also expected to generate over $12.6 billion USD by the end of 2019.
There are many sectors within the online gaming industry as a whole, from massively multiplayer online (MMO) games such as Warcraft or Fortnite, to a broad spectrum of gaming that involves some form of gambling. This can range from betting on sports and wagering at casinos, to participation in games at an online bingo site, enjoying both traditional and modern variants of games that we’re all familiar with.
Interestingly, Statista data for 2018 has revealed that online bingo now accounts for 33.9% of the gaming market in the UK, showing an exceptional and continued upward trend over the last couple of years. This is a clear indication that not only has bingo enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, but also growth in popularity amongst younger players.
Traditional Venues vs. Online Bingo
Traditional land-based bingo halls and venues still exist, yet they have inevitably found their continued existence increasingly difficult in the face of online competition. There’s a limit to how many different kinds of games they can offer, yet to combat this, some are expanding what they provide in terms of overall entertainment. This can include anything from live music and comedy acts, to specially themed nights.
By comparison, the developers of online bingo games have introduced a wide variety of different themes, plus they can rapidly incorporate more to suit whatever is trending at any given time. Some are aimed at appealing to particular social groups, while others are based around popular TV shows and movies, adding to their entertainment value. There are also hybrid bingo games such as “Slingo”, which combines the best elements of bingo and slot machines.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of all for online bingo sites is they never close, which is where traditional land-based venues are simply unable to compete, restricted by strict opening times or licensing regulations in different regions. Convenience is a key factor in the success of online bingo, because people are now able to play their favourite bingo games whenever they want, any time of day, twenty-four-seven.
Other advantages of playing online bingo include increased choice. Along with the superior variety of games available, players have far more control over social elements that are featured at bingo sites. Players can choose whether to participate in group competitions and chat rooms, or remain completely anonymous whilst they play bingo, for those who prefer their own personal space.
What the Future Holds
Already boasting a strong foothold in the online gaming industry, there’s no doubt that online bingo will continue to grow in popularity. This is largely thanks to embracing many different influences, attracting more and more players to try different ways of playing bingo in the digital age.
Dave has over 20 years experience in the digital industry, and is founder and editor of Geektown. Obviously a huge geek himself, he can often be found in front of the latest tv show or movie, on various video games, or with his head in a comic book.