Bingo is one of the nation’s favourites games. It’s been played throughout the UK for decades now and the switch to online means that it’s more accessible than it ever was.
What’s been great to see for bingo players is just how vast the industry is these days. New games are seemingly coming out on a monthly basis, and the bingo rooms are getting more technologically advanced making them more fun to play, and bingo bonuses are as lucrative as they have ever been.
We can’t help but think that right now is as good as the bingo industry has ever been, but all of this does come with complications. With more choice it’s sometimes harder to choose what is right for you. If you’re totally new to bingo, this can get overwhelming, and fast!
It’s for this reason that at OnlineBingo.uk.com we have broken down everything and anything that you need to know about bingo into manageable chunks. We will hold your hand throughout the whole process, covering everything from offers, strategy, reviews, bingo related articles, networks and games, highlighting everything that is great (and not so great) about online bingo.
How Does Online Bingo Work?
Bingo sites may look pretty simplistic from the outside looking in, as they are designed to allow people to sign up and set off pretty quickly. But there’s actually quite a lot more going on that you might realise at first, and it’s definitely going to benefit you to find out a little more about how each of these processes work.
The first thing to note are the networks. These networks are what drive the industry and they are essentially companies who create bingo games and software for the brands to then use on their site. What you will find is that most bingo sites won’t actually make their own games and will instead employ bingo networks to work alongside. The network sets up and runs the games and the bingo website hosts them.
This is why you are going to see the same or similar games on a lot of bingo sites, because they are using the same network. Each bingo site can use one or more networks to create a bigger game package. The more networks, the larger the selection of games they have at their disposal.
The networks are then all linked throughout each site. This means that players are pooled on that game’s network rather than just on a single bingo site. For example, you might be playing on a bingo site that is using Virtue Fusion as one of their game providers. You can then be playing the same game as someone who is on a completely different bingo site, but as they are both Virtue Fusion games the players are pooled together.
Numbers and RNGs
An RNG is an acronym for what is known as a Random Number Generator. These RNG’s are able to power the bingo games and keep them totally random and fair, just as if you were playing in a bingo hall and they had the old-fashioned wheel with the balls in.
In fact, one of the best ways to describe how RNG’s work is to use the wheel and balls as a visualisation tool. You see, what happens is that the numbers are all pooled into a virtual wheel, and this wheel will spin millions of times per second. Every time the button is pressed, or after a certain amount of time, the wheel randomly stops on the number and then this is the number that is drawn in the game.
Whilst this is an over simplified version of events, it does highlight the randomness that is created by the RNG. If you consider that the wheel spins as frequently as it does per second, there would be next to no way to ever predict, and more importantly, tamper with this process.
For those looking for a more detailed explanation, the first thing you need to be aware of is that there are two key parts to any RNG; the seed and the algorithm. The seed is the number that is generated multiple times within a single second and then this seed works with the algorithm to determine the next ball that will come out. As each ball is revealed, that number is removed from the seed and it works again in the same way with the remaining numbers.
The algorithm is something that is determined by the network that creates that game. The bingo site that you are playing on will have nothing to do with any of this so it can’t be controlled or affected by them in any way.
Are Bingo Games Fair?
Every game that is developed and then put out to market undergo’s a strict working over by the UK Gambling Commission, who are the governing body for all gambling in the UK. It’s their job to make sure there are no flaws from a safety point of view and that the games work in the way they are supposed to.
The UKGC, being a government run entity, have no bias over these games and are therefore fully independent. If there are issues they will simply reject the games, so you can be sure that they are as safe as they could possibly.
There are also other bodies that have been set up as extra layers of security for the industry. The likes of eCOGRA are another well-known entity whose role it is to rigorously test any new bingo games to ensure they are safe and fair.
Offers and Bonuses
One of the biggest draws for any online bingo player is that of an offer or bingo bonus. These are often in the form of welcome bonuses that reward players for signing up to that particular bingo site. They are the biggest marketing tool that the bingo rooms have and there is fierce competition in the industry with each bingo room going head to head to get players to choose them over their rivals.
From a player’s point of view, this is a dream scenario. In fact, over the last 10 years these offers have become more intense and more lucrative for the players than they have ever been before.
There are generally two types of bingo bonuses:
- Deposit bonus
- No deposit bonus
The deposit bonus is going to require you to make a cash deposit on your account and then the bingo room will offer you a reward for doing so. These are usually anywhere between a 100% and 500% match. For example, they might state that if you sign up and deposit £10, you get £50 in bonus money.
A no deposit bonus is where the bingo room will give you free bonus money just for signing up for an account. So, for this you won’t need to make a deposit, and just for registering with them they will fund your account with bonus money.
Whilst it may seem from the outset the no deposit bonuses are better as you get something for nothing, the reality is that more often than not, the deposit bonus is going to be more lucrative. This is because of the sums of money that are on the table for each. You see, a no deposit bonus might be £5 or £10, but deposit bonuses can be £50+ with the right bingo room.
What’s the Catch?
We wouldn’t say that there was a “catch” but there are terms and conditions that you need to be aware of. The main one comes in the form of wager requirements.
The bingo room won’t just let you have £10 cash when you sign up which you can then withdraw – that would be crazy. Instead, they ask that you play a certain number of games or wager a certain amount of money before they release bonus funds for withdrawal.
A typical example might be a 30x wagering requirement for a £30 bonus. This would mean that you need to place £900 (30 x £30) worth of bets before you can withdraw your bonus in cash. There’s a little more to it than that, but we’ve a whole article dedicated to bingo offers that you need to check out.
We’ve briefly spoken about the way in which networks work, but we wanted to now talk a little more on who is out there and what sort of games they offer.
One thing that we want to note is that no two networks are the same. They can range in the type of games that they offer, the style, size, amount played for, jackpots and so many other features. The best thing about this is that it lets the bingo sites pick and choose networks, and therefore games, that will then allow them to offer the best bingo experience that they can.
Here’s a list of some of the bigger networks:
- Dragonfish Network – These guys are probably the biggest in the industry right now and have been about since 2007. They work within the B2B section of 888 Holdings but are on show in over 150 different casinos in the industry. They work with a wide variety of games, but it’s 90-ball and 75-ball games that they are best known for.
- Virtue Fusion – PlayTech actually bought Virtue Fusion in 2010, and since then the company have thrived. They offer a huge number of visually stunning bingo games and are now one of the bigger brands within the industry. They work well with 90 ball, 80-ball, 75-ball and branded bingo games such as Deal or No Deal, which is one of the most popular games in the world.
- 15 Network – The 15 Network are a highly innovative group and they are well known for their “spin the wheel” bonus. This is where players who are new to the network can spin the wheel and get a bonus of anywhere between £5 and £2,500.
- Microgaming – Microgaming are not just one of the biggest bingo game providers, but they are one of the biggest gambling game providers in the world. They are the oldest on the list and this pedigree enables them to offer a large range of games, specialising in a plethora of bingo game types.
Whilst it’s the bingo rooms that are front and centre, it’s these networks that are powering the games themselves and many people don’t realise that this is the case. The majority of the networks will run games through their own servers, and this means that you might be playing other players from different bingo rooms in the same game.
There are positives and negatives to playing games within these networks. The biggest is that the games are much larger, and this usually means that there is more money to be won. You will notice this even more with jackpot games and the like.
The downside is that you lose some of the interaction that you might get with smaller games. For example, you could be on a UK-only based bingo site and the chat could be full of languages from all over the world. Players can feel a little alienated and it can be hard to communicate when this does happen.
For the most part though, these networks function really well. It allows the bingo sites to concentrate on the players and their well-being, safe in the knowledge that the games themselves and the quality of these games are in good hands with the network providers.
Liquidity is something that not many people think about when it comes to bingo sites, but we think is an important factor. For those that don’t know, liquidity just means the amount of money that is available on that site. We aren’t talking about seeing the businesses balance sheets here, but we can tell from a few factors which sites have high liquidity and which don’t.
The first thing to note are the number of players that are online. As we have spoken about, some bingo sites run as part of a network, which means that players may be on different bingo sites but are actually playing the same game through the link in that network.
A high number of players means that there are going to be a high number of games that are running around the clock. This is great for people who possibly don’t play in peak times and are still looking to get a game.
Liquidity also has a bearing on the amount of money that you can play for in each game. Your standard games are going to be worth that much more with high volumes of traffic, but things like jackpots, especially progressive jackpots, are going to be way higher. You trade off a little bit in terms of the probability of winning given there are more players, but you can win less often with much greater rewards when you play this way.
This is also one of the major pro’s for choosing network-based bingo rooms over exclusive rooms. You just won’t get the same number of players over the exclusive rooms than you will over the network-based ones, which means liquidity will be down on these and often by a considerable amount.
We’ve touched on this a couple of times already, but the number of games that you are able to play online these days is quite staggering. If you’ve played bingo in your local hall or you know of the basic rules, then you’re going to have your mind blown by how many variants there are online.
The networks have really gone to town and the developments over the last few years seem to have taken them to a new level. What’s been great to see is that even though the number of games has increased, the quality has also increased alongside them. Games are no longer just a boring card that is on your screen, but instead they are more interactive, which makes the whole experience that bit more exciting.
Your standard games come in the form of 90-ball and 75-ball variants. These are what we like to call the “bread and butter” of any good bingo site. These are the games that get the most players and likely where you are going to be able to win the most money.
These games have seen quite a bit of development over the years though and they are now able to include the likes of 80-ball, 50-ball and 40-ball bingo games. The games work in the same sort way as each other, but they adjust the number of balls that each includes. As you can imagine, even a change in 10 balls can alter the game dynamics a lot, so when you go from 90-ball to 40-ball bingo, things really start to get interesting.
Most of these games will come as a single ticket for each card or you will be able to buy strips of tickets. Some bingo rooms will offer you a discount for a strip, so make sure that you shop around to find these where possible as the savings can really start to add up.
Next up are that of branded games. These are usually based on TV shows like Deal or No Deal, Emmerdale, and Coronation Street. Each of them has the branding from that show plus imagery such as characters that are in it, and they will also use the theme tune for the show before the game starts which is nice if you’re a fan.
Deal or No Deal is probably one of the most popular bingo games in the industry. It’s quite interactive in that your numbers are linked to the boxes that you see on the TV show. As a number is called, your box is marked and removed, but not before you see what you could have won. The person to get down to their box the fastest is the winner, which is technically just the same as getting “house” in a typical bingo game.
Jackpots are another massively popular game, and for good reason. These are where there is additional money added to that game that can be won by any of the players. Most jackpots are triggered by getting house in under a certain number of balls. Other jackpots can be pretty random and are fired out when you trigger something that often isn’t within your control.
Progressive jackpots are the biggest of their kind and these are ones that are run across a whole network, which means that the pool increases much more quickly. These jackpots take a small amount of money from each game that is played. The money is then entered into the pot and it keeps growing and growing until it is won. It’s not uncommon for these to pay out several hundred thousand pounds for jackpots that have not been won for a while.
On top of this are guaranteed daily jackpots, when the bingo room puts up a certain amount of money for that day and it can trigger on any game at any time, and similarly guaranteed jackpots that are applied to specific games.
How Often Are New Games Released?
You will find that new games across all the networks are released each week. It’s often hard to find details of what is released and when, but if they start to do well then you can rest assured that the bingo site will let you know in one of their marketing promotions.
What you need to be aware of is that new game types aren’t released that often, and by this we mean new variations of 90-ball, 80-ball, 75-ball games and so on. They are basically going to be new themes and versions for existing game formats.
That’s ok though. The game itself is solid, but there are always ways to keep things fresh and put a little twist on the game we all love.
Do the Games Work on Mobile?
The majority of games will work on your phone.
Most bingo sites will allow you to simply visit the bingo room from your mobile browser and you can start playing right away, others may have an app that you are able to download.
We prefer the latter as it often makes for better game graphics and a stronger connection given that mobile browsers can sometimes be a little buggy.
You need to be aware that with some mobile bingo sites you might not be able to access the full range of games as some might not be totally compatible with mobile.
However, this number is starting to increase as the popularity of mobile bingo play increases.
We wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a total crossover of games on all platforms in the not too distance future as mobile bingo starts to take hold.
Side games are a common link with bingo sites. These are basically games that you can play alongside the bingo games and are often a little faster in how they work.
A side game is basically an online casino game and they usually come in the form of slots, scratch cards, and video poker. These games are easy to access and you can play them either whilst you wait or with your bingo game.
The games that you can play will depend on the bingo room and the networks that they are linked with. For example, Virtue Fusion is part of the PlayTech group, so the bingo site will get a wide range of casino games from PlayTech’s huge catalogue.
For the most part, these games will be the same ones that you can play within any online casino. However, some may have been modified to work a little better within a slightly more confined area in order to allow players to play side games and bingo games at the same time.
Bingo Sites – Which One to Choose?
There’s going to be an insane amount of choice with whatever your needs are for choosing a bingo site. The fact of the matter is that we can’t just say that you need to play x, y or z bingo site as we think that they are the best.
Each site is different, and they might offer something that other bingo sites don’t. Our job is to inform you of how they work and give you as much info on this as possible. Once we’ve done this, you should then be able to make a much more informed decision of which bingo site is going to suit you best.
However, if you don’t know what you’re looking for and you’re new, we can help here as well. We can inform you on things to look out for, things that you may not already know (wager requirements for bonus, bingo networks, game types etc.) which will stand you in great stead to make the right choice first time.
By the time you’ve finished going through this site, you’ll know everything there is to know about this industry, what it is you’re looking to get from your bingo site, and which bingo site is going to offer you that.