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Bingo: Adapting to the Online Space

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Bingo has had an uneven history. The popular pen-and-paper game has evolved from something played in community halls to an almost exclusively online pastime and yet there’s evidence that both ways of playing are now gaining steam with the public once again.

In the UK, where much of bingo’s early popularity was earned in the 1940s, the game has become a routine daily activity for certain demographics. However, other parts of the world also enjoy playing bingo with few to no changes to the existing rules. The game played in Quebec, for example, is known as ‘Kinzo’, while the variant played in India is called ‘Housie’, named for the traditional winning call.

The Zoom Effect in Bingo

While bingo operators have made some adjustments to the game, such as by incorporating slots-style gameplay (known as ‘Slingo’) and incorporating pop culture phenomena to attract new audiences, many online bingo games simply adjust the ticket price and jackpot size to keep the game familiar to veteran players. The low price of entry for many real money online bingo rooms also means that the game is relatively low-risk for newcomers.

As mentioned, though, bingo’s recent history is typified by a sea change in how the game is played, not so much in the rules but in how it is accessed by its fans. On paper, bingo’s simplicity can make it appear inflexible, yet its successful move to the online space isn’t all that common for board games. In fact, it could be argued that most board games lose their appeal once the cardboard and plastic are no longer involved in the proceedings.

In India, It has only recently made the leap to electronic play. The Hindu Times reported in 2020 that some bingo apps had experienced growth of up to 200%. This trend is almost universal across software dedicated to the game. The same newspaper claims that the video calling app Zoom has also played its part in popularizing the game. Pen and paper versions of bingo are being played among collectives connected by the service.

A Modern Town Hall

Regarding bingo’s popularity, plenty of experts (and tabloids) have weighed into the debate. Their conclusions have proven interesting, if not especially groundbreaking. Along with bridge and video gaming, Housie and bingo offer brain exercises and a sense of community for seniors. Changes to the format mean that there’s increasingly a place for new audiences at the table too. However, in smaller communities, physical bingo halls can operate as a surrogate for the town hall. They provide a type of meeting place that’s virtually non-existent in the current decade.

So, what’s next? It’s difficult to see where bingo and Housie might go from here but the two games’ renewed position as community activities has nevertheless taken their evolution full circle. Their ability to survive alongside more sophisticated activities such as video and board gaming means that bingo and Housie shouldn’t struggle for relevance over the next few years and decades either. Are people still willing to travel to their local bingo hall, though?

 

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