by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
The recent struggles that land casinos have faced in the industry, such as smoking bans, restrictions on slots machines and tax increases have not made an impact online casinos and bingo halls, according to the Telegraph this week.
The UK based newspaper went on to say that the online bingo industry is generating revenues of some 600 million GBP. 888.com chief, Gigi Levy added, “Online bingo is booming everywhere. But it’s a mistake to link it to traditional bingo, because that’s a completely different proposition. Our women [online customers] are young, above average income and typical internet consumers. Land-based bingo is about elderly people, smoking and aggressive slot machines.”
Levy mentioned that 888.com’s ladies’ bingo profits had quadrupled from their previous quarter, and suggested that the recent drop in land casinos could be due to the lack of exclusively female-oriented bingo.
“People are cutting back on leisure, but they are staying home and spending only in the low tens of pounds a month with the chance of winning some extra cash,” said continued, “The beauty of it is there are very low costs and a huge number of players, so despite low margins, it is very profitable.”
Based on a UK Gambling Commission study, the amount of online bingo participants increased from 250,000 to 500,000 in just one year in 243 registered and licensed bingo websites. The Telegraph further reports on newer bingo operators like ITV’s Emmerdale-themed website, the Sun’s new BSkyB, and even some games whose prizes are sex toys. Ann Summers is hosting a new bingo game with a “series of outrageous new nicknames,” where winners can exchange the number 66 from “clickety-click” into “kinky tricks.”
A young female online casino player told the Telegraph that she preferred playing online because of more attractive nature of online bingo websites that offer much of the same features, “…but you can make a noise without being shushed by the old ladies, play in your pajamas and start a game at any time of the day.”
The woman continued, “There are so many free bonuses and prizes. I feel sorry for land-based bingo because it’s really suffering, but online has so much more to offer.”
Some still feel that much of the revenue lost in land casinos is due to the ever growing online market, but Steve Baldwin of the Bingo Association states that both are capable of flourishing in the market. “When online bingo was invented, land-based bingo feared the competition,” said Baldwin. “Now they have realized there is only a 10 percent crossover of their players. Within a year, there had to be some consolidation. People will start to value recognized online brands and recession might not be a bad thing, as the ‘me too’ brands won’t stay the course.”
Because newer bingo websites are emerging into the market daily, and within a year seeing over 12,000 consumers, this may not be the case for land casinos. Comparatively, it costs much less to gamble in online bingo halls than it does any other form of internet gambling, and that is what many feel is drawing more people from the land casino market.
The article ended with a young woman who opined, “Online is so easy and anonymous. I wouldn’t ever go back to club bingo. If it was a number, you’d have to call it 28 [in a state], but online bingo is like a number 20.”