The online bingo industry is huge, and it’s continuing to grow all the time. It’s now worth multiple billions of pounds in revenue each year, which means that there are plenty of companies wanting to get a slice of the pie.
It also means the market is as saturated as it’s ever been, with hundreds of bingo sites to choose from. Like all markets, some products are better than others, but it’s important to note that what suits one player might not suit another. Bonuses are a great example of this; there are lots of them but many are linked only to side games and slots, and if you don’t play those games then those bonuses are worthless.
We realise that it can be quite daunting trying to find the perfect bingo site for you, so here’s an overview of what we think are some of the best in the industry right now.
Gala are without doubt one of the most iconic brands for bingo and they are certainly one of the biggest bingo sites that we have tested. The company have been running bingo halls since 1991, but the bingo site has been online since 2005, making them one of the oldest sites of their kind, and with that comes a boat load of experience.
The site is another that is powered by Virtue Fusion, so you know from the off you’re getting a great range of games. 90-ball, 80-ball, 50-ball, 45-ball and 75-ball offerings are all available, but what we really loved was the link to the branded games like Coronation Street or The Chase. The Coronation Street game is great because you can watch old clips of the show from years ago and it’s a proper trip down memory lane that will be great fun for the superfan.
The games start from 2p and work their way up from there, which means that they can cater for a huge diverse range of bankrolls as a result. This sort of accessibility is incredibly important if the bingo industry is to thrive. There are 22 rooms in total and a good mix of games in each of the rooms.
Like so many of the bigger brands, it’s the social side of things that really sets them apart. Not only can you get involved with active chat rooms for each of the games, but their social media channels on the likes of Facebook and Twitter are equally as active and offer a great insight into which new games are going to be hitting the site.
Its’s also worth noting that Gala are one of few companies that still run bricks and mortar bingo halls. They have 24 in total that are dotted throughout the UK.
Bingocams has been online since 2011 and they are one of the most innovative bingo sites that we have tested. As the name suggests, this form of bingo play is all about the webcam, which means that not only can you chat with your fellow players, but you can also see them. It takes interaction to a whole new level and the company are one of very few in the industry to offer this feature. It should be noted that a webcam isn’t a requirement, so don’t let that scare you off.
The site is predominantly powered by B-Live Gaming, who are the brains behind the webcam feature, but they also work with other top companies such as Microgaming and NetEnt to provide a lot of their side games. The mix means that the site is really well rounded, and if side games are a guilty pleasure of yours then you don’t get much better than the two companies named above.
The webcam games are what really sets the site apart, and these are the ones that most people will be looking to play. The majority of these games will be 90-ball, but they also offer 75-ball bingo, along with jackpots, free games, penny games, and speed games.
Bingocams is undoubtedly one of the better online bingo rooms and their webcam angle means that they offer something unique in an overcrowded market. Innovation and individuality in this industry is tough to come by, so kudos to these guys for smashing this out of the park and forcing their way to the front of the queue.
Mecca bingo have been in existence since 1961 and are easily one of the best-known bingo brands in the world. The company initially started life as a brick and mortar-based company, and they still have 86 locations dotted around the UK – more than pretty much anyone else and around 25% of the UK market.
They made the decision to champion online bingo in 2003 and not only were they one of the first to do so, but this early adoption brought them great success. The company now use a number of software providers to power their bingo room, and these includes Bede Gaming and PlayTech, along with Eyecon, Novomatic, IGT, Bally and Greentube all coming together to power Mecca’s side game collection.
The site comes with 25 bingo rooms – one of the largest number of rooms that we have seen – and they also have 13 different bingo games which include variants such as 75-ball, 80-ball and 90-ball. Another area in their range of games is a fantastic group of branded titles, with The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent being two of our favourites.
Mecca also comes with its own mobile app that you can download on both iPhone and Android devices. You are able to access a wide range of games and, on the newer phones with slightly larger screens, you arguably get a better gaming experience too.
Coral have been one of the biggest sports betting companies for decades now, and a fairly recent merger with Ladbrokes in 2016 means that they have never been stronger. It took them a while to adapt from sports betting to that of bingo, however, with their bingo site not being launched until 2013 – almost ten years after the earliest adopters.
Coral have now had several years to mature and perfect their offering, and pretty much anything that these big bookmakers turn their hands to generally works out pretty well for them, and we can confirm that this is the case for Coral.
The site comes with 6 games in total that are split over 13 rooms. This means that they aren’t the biggest by any means, but it’s likely there will be enough choice for most players. 90-ball bingo is where the majority of the best games sit, with the MegaMax bingo room available for those looking to play for more money per ticket and for bigger prizes too. The Coconut Island room is one that we recommend you check out, which includes 50-ball bingo games that are great fun and a welcome change from the norm.
It’s also worth noting that the community at Coral is excellent. It gets a large footfall, mainly because of the brand recognition and possibly the other products it offers, which means that bingo here is buzzing for most of the day.
32Red were one of the first online-only companies to really attack the bingo market back in 2003. They’ve since gone on to become one of the biggest and best in the industry, boasting a huge data base of players and a really slick set up in terms of games that are on offer.
The main driving force behind these games is software developer Microgaming. This allows the site to hold 2 bingo games across 5 rooms. Some of the highlights include bingo bonuses and the speed bingo room, where the games come thick and fast, opening from noon to 10pm GMT. If we were being hyper-critical of the site we would say that they lack in terms of depth of games that are on offer compared to rivals, but the quality that’s on offer cannot be denied.
The size of the site means that the community is large, which is great as chat rooms are often boisterous, even at off-peak times of the day. They also offer all of their games on mobile devices direct from their dedicated bingo app, available on both Android and iOS.
Another of the bigger names in the bingo industry, although arguably better known for casino/sports, is that of 888. The company first started laying their foundations in 1997, but it wasn’t until 2008 when the virtual doors of their bingo site were opened for business. Since then they haven’t looked back, and have one of the most complete bingo sites in the industry.
The bingo site is powered by Dragonfish which is 888’s in house studio, but they also include a lot of other game developers for help providing their side games, and these are companies they already work with over at their casino so they go together well. The range of games is superb, with 3 different formats based over an incredible 26 room platform.
The jackpot games are probably what 888 are best known for and these cover everything from progressive jackpots, fixed price, and even daily jackpots in some of their most popular rooms. They also offer a lot of free games as well, such as the Sunday Sizzle which is a pretty famous meet up for a lot of dedicated bingo players within the industry.
Community wise the site works faultlessly. As you can imagine with a brand like 888, they get a large number of players just because of who they are, which means it can be a hive of activity as a result.
Kitty Bingo is one of the newest bingo sites that we have come across and they are one of the sites that have covered the most ground in the shortest period of time. What we mean by this is that all the other brands we have spoken about have had some sort of background in either the gambling industry or have been brick and mortar bingo halls before moving online. Kitty bingo launched from the ground up in 2012 and has gone on to become one the best in the business in that time.
What is unique, and very brave, of Kitty Bingo is that they use their own in-house games platform, meaning that all of their games are totally unique and can’t be found anywhere else. The downside to this is that they are a little limited in terms of variation, and the majority of them are the 90-ball or 75-ball formats. Games do start from as little as 1p though, and they do drift to some big numbers for those of you with slightly heavier wallets than most.
Given that Kitty Bingo doesn’t get as much traffic as other sites, the community side of things is a little slower, but that also makes it a lot more intimate, which might be more suited to certain types of players as it’s easy to drown in the sheer volume of messages in some of the bigger site’s chat rooms.
Ladbrokes is another brand that is best known for their work within the sports betting sector, but their online bingo site has been live since 2004, which actually makes them one of the oldest in our group. The site has been getting rave reviews over the last few years and we are happy to agree with them – it is definitely one of the best that we’ve tested to date.
One of the big reasons to this is that they are powered by Virtue Fusion, who themselves seem to be increasing their reputation on an almost daily basis. Because of this Ladbrokes are able to tap into their range of branded games, such as Emmerdale and Deal or No Deal. For us, these are some of the best in the business and whilst there are other sites that also use Virtue Fusion, they definitely add another layer to the depth for Ladbrokes customers.
Game variations include 90, 80 and 75-ball as your basic range, but you can also get 40-ball and the new 50-ball variations that are made up of creating letters and symbols, rather than lines, which keeps things fresh.
Because of the size of the sites, the community spirit is strong with this one and given that they are super generous with things like bonuses and jackpot games, customer retention is higher than many other bingo sites can claim.
Online since 2007, Bingo.com has been a strong representative of the online bingo industry for well over a decade now, and in that time they have risen to become one of the better brands that ply their trade in this competitive market.
The site is powered by Relax Gaming, which is great as they are the only site in our list to use this software, meaning that straight out of the box Bingo.com are able to offer different games to those you would find at other big name brands, making them instantly more interesting. With these guys you are going to get 10 different games rooms and then a variation of 90 and 75-ball games.
We loved the fact that they were keen to offer things like tournaments and BOGOF offers as well. You’ve even got a series of beginner’s games that spend a little more time on the rules of the game and work a little slower than the main games.
The site comes with a good community spirit that allows for the chat rooms to be busy almost throughout the day. All of this is available on both Android and iOS devices too, so you can play on the go as well.
Does It Matter Where You Play?
What you may discover from a lot of the bingo sties that we cover is that, in truth, a lot of them are very similar in terms of the games and the features that they offer. Many people often ask us if it even matters which bingo site they pick.
Our answer is always, yes.
Whilst the bare bones are often similar, the sites can differ quite dramatically in terms of jackpots, bonuses, game types, graphics, customer services and so much more. You are buying into that brand not just its games, and as we know, brands can work in very different ways, and different players valuing different aspects.
Here are some of the things that you can look out for when choosing which bingo site you want to play at.
The most obvious place to start is with the network that the site is using. There are plenty to choose from, with some of the bigger ones listed below:
- Virtue Fusion
- Jumpman Gaming
- Cozy Games
These are all separate companies who specialise in creating bingo games from scratch. The bingo sites are then able to contract one or more of these networks to power their site with their games. There are some sites, like Kitty bingo, that create their own games, but this is pretty rare in this day and age.
What you then find is that the games that you play are controlled by that network rather than by the site that you are playing on. For example, if you are playing on a bingo site that has the Virtue Fusion network powering them, then you can be playing the same game as other players who are playing on a totally different bingo site that is also powered by Virtue Fusion.
It may come as shock to hear that they don’t create their own games, but these networks and game developers are now so good that it just doesn’t make sense for the bingo site to compete. Plus, it means that they can plough all of their time and resources into things like bonuses and customer services, which are crucial aspects for any online bingo site.
From a player’s point of view, what you can do first is try to work out which network you like the most in terms of the games that they offer. If you can do this, you are then able to jump between several bingo sites that are all powered by this game developer and choose the brand that best suits you. This could be down to anything from the design to the bonuses and everything in between. You know that the games are good, but now you can fine tune your overall playing experience as well.
Just as a quick word of warning regarding bonuses; you may find that networks get wise players that jump from site to site within the same network just to get the bonus. It has been known for the networks to contact other bingo sites about this and we have seen instances where players have been banned from receiving further bonuses from sites on that network. This won’t be a bingo ban, just a ban on the bonuses or promotions that they offer, so bear this in mind.
2) Exclusive Games
Whilst the majority of bingo sites will get access to the entire package of games on offer from a network, some sites (usually the bigger ones) also get access to exclusive games. It may be that these sites have been able to get a license from a brand (like a game show for example) and then approach their network to make the game. This means that only they can promote said game, even though other sites are on the same network.
Gala are one of the best bingo sites that we have come across for exclusive titles, and even though they have strong ties with Virtue Fusion, they have a large range of exclusive games that players can only access from their site.
One of Gala’s biggest exclusives is that of Coronation Street, which is actually one of the best bingo games on the market right now. Gala were able to commission the game directly with the makers of the soap and then they got Virtue Fusion to make that game for them. The game is actually a fairly standard 90-ball offering, but it comes with clips from old Coronation Street episodes, making it one of the best for anyone who loves the show.
Lots of bingo sites will claim to have a large range of exclusive games, but you need to wary that the majority of these are usually slots or side games. If you are into these as much as your bingo, then they’d be worth a look, but if you are looking for exclusive bingo games, then you will need to shop around a little as they are less common.
Exclusive games are one of the biggest draws for many players, especially given that so many bingo sites can end up offering the same products. It’s the bigger companies that generally get the deals, so if this is your thing, your best bet is to hit these up and see what’s on offer.
3) Loyalty Bonuses
Next on the list is that of loyalty bonuses. When you join up to a bingo room, you’re almost certainly going to be given a welcome offer of some kind, but these can come and go pretty quickly and once you are signed up, what are your reward options from here?
The loyalty bonus or VIP scheme is something that you really need to be looking into, as this is giving you extra for your consistent play on the site. Think of it like your Tesco Clubcard points, but for online bingo.
Before we dive too much into this, we wanted to make it clear that if you are playing any type of online bingo, you are leaving free money on the table by not utilising even the most basic of loyalty programs. There are lots of them so there’s no excuse to miss out.
These bonuses and VIP schemes will differ massively with each bingo site and some are more beneficial than others; they can range from things like free bingo tickets for consecutive days play to holidays and high-end electronics for the high roller VIPs amongst you.
What you need to find is a scheme that is going to work for the types of games that you play and the stakes you want to wager. For example, if the offer is to turn over £1,000 worth of bingo tickets each month to get a free Bose speaker and you only play around £20 per month, then this is going to be a pointless scheme for you to enter into.
Instead, you need to be looking at something that is going to suit your bankroll and the amount that you are looking to play. Don’t forget that these can often include side games and sometimes even casino games as well, so the points can really start to rack up as a result.
3) Side Games
The side games are another really important aspect to consider when choosing your bingo site. They are now a popular section of any site and many people base their decision on where to sign up based on the range of side games on offer.
Side games are essentially a little casino on the side that runs in conjunction with the bingo section. They include a range of casino games like slots, scratchcards, and video poker that allow you to play more than one game at the same time.
The range of games that you can play depends on the network that the site uses to power their site. They can choose the games from this network and then host them on their bingo site. What’s good about this is that even if you only play at sites that use the same bingo network, they won’t necessarily have the same games to choose from; some might have deals with more game providers than others.
If these side games factor into the way that you play, then it’s going to be worth looking into which software providers are powering the site before then narrowing the options down by the bingo room on offer. It might seem like a backwards way of doing it but it can make a big difference. You’re going to be able to get a good idea of what’s on offer just from browsing the network’s main site and looking at which games are on show.
We should point out that the games that you play as side games will be the same as the main games from other casinos, it’s just they will be a little smaller in size as they need to fit into your bingo lobby. We mention this because if you are playing jackpot or progressive jackpot games then these will be part of the overall network, so they are likely going to be much bigger than normal slots that are individual to each site – much in the same way a bingo jackpot game would work.
4) Customer Support
We’ve spoken a lot about the different aspects of bingo sites and how they can all feel very similar. If we had to state one thing that separates the wheat from the chafe, it would have to be the customer support.
In an ideal world you will never need to contact customer support, but in reality it’s likely that at some point you are going to need some help. The problem here is that you find positive and negative reviews of pretty much all customer support services at all sites. A lot of the negative comments come from disgruntled players who’ve perhaps unknowingly broken their terms and conditions and the result has not gone in their favour. Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done about that but their negative reviews may not be fair.
However, there are also times where support genuinely isn’t anywhere near as good as it needs to be, and you can usually tell genuine negative reviews apart from bitter ones in the way that they are written, so do read them properly. To some degree though, customer service is going to be a personal thing so it’s tough to say that x is better than y.
One of the key things that we like to look out for are the methods that you can use to contact them. We like to see as many as possible, and these should include at least phone and email/live chat, but ideally an actual address and social media contact as well. In fact, social media is now becoming our most favoured, especially via Twitter.
The reason Twitter works so well is that you can see the tweets that have been sent in and then responded to by the bingo site’s account. You can check how often they reply and how long it took them (and how useful it was). A good support system will be prompt and courteous in their response and to us, if they are getting this right, they are likely going to be pretty good to deal with on the whole. Aside from actually reaching out to them and trying for yourself, this is going to be the best way to gauge a support program from the bingo site.
6) Responsible Gambling
Another key area is the bingo’s sites approach to responsible gambling. This is an area that the whole industry has been cracking down on massively in recent years, so it’s something that no player should take lightly.
You are looking for things like account limits on spending. Most will now allow and encourage you to set daily, weekly, and monthly budgets for both spends and then deposits as well. This ensures that you play safely and stay on a budget.
Another point to note is the self-exclusion rules. This is where you can ban yourself from the site for a prolonged period of time and you won’t be able to log in until that time period is over. You won’t be able to create another account under the same name either, helping to ensure that people who have previously decided that they shouldn’t be playing, remain unable to play.
Given that many sites are linked within networks some will carry these self-exclusions and even gambling limits across the network. So, if you decide to self-exclude yourself from one site, then this might be rolled out across any other sites that use the same network. This will be even more likely if it’s the bingo room that has self-excluded the player for their own good.
Frequently Asked Questions
As with all aspects of online gambling, there are a bunch of questions that keep cropping up that people often want answers to.
Below we have listed some of the more common ones that we get asked almost on a daily basis.
Are Bingo Sites Legal?
Bingo sites that trade in the UK need to go through a strict licensing program to be eligible to work within the country. This is held by the UK Gambling Commission who are a government run company that oversee all aspects of gambling within the UK.
There are strict rules and regulations that are in place that the bingo sites need to adhere to. If they fail at any hurdle, they won’t be able to get a license and they won’t legally be allowed to practice in the UK.
If you are unsure if a site is fully licensed or not, you can easily jump on UKGC’s website and search for that bingo site. If they are licensed, they will show up and you can see their license and status. Also note the expiry date on the license as well, as there have been cases where licenses have expired but the site has continued to operate, and since the license was out of date this meant they were un-licensed.
The bingo sites also need to add a link from their license back to their website, which is usually found in the footer of said site. It should go direct to their page on the UKGC website, but sometimes it’s just a link to the UKGC homepage, so make sure you check manually.
If the site does not have a license from the UKGC then we would advise avoiding that site like the plague, as they aren’t legally allowed to accept players from the UK. There are hundreds that are legal so there are plenty of choices elsewhere.
The UKGC also play a vital role for players as well. If there are any disputes that need to be escalated, then you can contact them with your problem. They might not always directly work with you in resolving your case, but they will pass you over to the dedicated governing body that will help you regarding your problem, so it’s good to get familiar with the UKGC and how they work.
Is My Money Safe?
This is a bit of a mental minefield for people who are new to the industry and an area that even some long term players aren’t fully versed on. The first thing to note is that bingo sites need to be totally transparent about how they hold your money and how safe it is if they go bust. You can easily get this information from either their terms and conditions or their customer service.
Next, you need to be aware that gambling funds are not protected by the government or the UK Gambling Commission in any way, but it is a legal requirement for all bingo sites to keep your money ring fenced in a bank account that is separate from the company’s main bank account.
There are three levels of protection as outlined by the UKGC:
- Not protected – This means that there is no extra protection from the ring-fenced bank account and if the company went bust, the money in that account would be seen as belonging to the company and therefore seized by debtors. In other words, you would lose it.
- Medium protection – The money is still part of the company but there is insurance in place that protects funds, and should the company go bust, the money in separate accounts will eventually be paid out.
- High protection – Money is held in an account that is totally separate from the company’s funds. Often accounts are controlled by an external auditor and if the company were to be wound up, this account would have nothing at all to do with that company and players would be able to access funds almost immediately.
The UKGC actually state that it’s up to the player to choose sites that meet the level off responsibility that they want before joining. We would add that you really want to be avoiding Not Protected sites – and a bare minimum you want Medium Protection.
Gladly, it’s actually very rare for companies to just shut down these days, and often what you see is that they get acquired by other bingo companies and swallowed into a bigger business, and your money would be safe in that instance. But we still need to make you aware that horror stories have and still do happen, so you need to make sure you do your due diligence.
How do Bingo Sites Make Money?
The bingo sites make money by taking a percentage of each game, which is also known as the ‘rake’. It’s a common business model for this type of gambling and essentially works in the same way that National Lottery does, in that they keep part of each week’s prize pool and distribute the rest back into the economy.
The amount of money that they take from each pot will vary, but obviously from a player’s point of view you want to be playing games that have the lowest rake, as this means that more money is being distributed back into the prize pool.
Let’s run through a quick example of how this might work:
The bingo game is £1 per ticket and you have 50 people playing. This means that the pot is £50 before rake. The bingo site takes 10% as their cut which leaves £45 in total. The payout might then be something like:
- 1 line = £10
- 2 lines = £15
- House = £20
As you can see, the amount of money left in the pot is then split between the players.
You will generally find that the bigger companies actually rake the least as they are still able to make large amounts of money from a bigger player pool. There are also some games that are ‘rake free’, which are often promotions but they do exist and are worth looking out for.
Are the Games Fair?
The simple answer is yes and we’ve a whole article addressing this going into great detail about the process of making sure games are fair, but we wanted to also add a quick overview here.
The first thing to note is that most bingo sites use networks to power their games, as we have mentioned, so they are not actually in control of the game itself and the network is paid by the site regardless so they have no incentive to fix it. Next, you already know that the bingo site has to be licensed by the UKGC, but the networks have to be fully licensed by the UKGC as well, so there is a double layer of testing and security there.
The network then needs to present each game to the UKGC to highlight that it’s fair and proper, hitting certain guidelines in the process. If the UKGC state that it is, they are allowed to include it on their site; if not, then they have to either go back and fix it or scrap it altogether.
So, the games are all checked by the UKGC, who only have players safety in mind when making any decision within the industry. This is how you know that these games are fair.
At the time of writing, no fines or reports have ever been made regarding games that have been tampered with after they have passed the inspection from the UKGC. You don’t get much fairer than that from a governing body that constantly fines gambling sites for even the slightest of breaches of their agreement.