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Bingo is heading online! Yay!

For decades bingo has been associated with the local bingo hall, which is a bit of a British institution. Bingo was seen as a fundamentally social exercise and relaxed form of entertainment, with friends gathering round for a drink, food and the chance to try their hand at the game.

Now though, with half of the UK’s bingo halls gone, there’s been a drive towards playing bingo online. Bingo hall operators like Mecca and Gala have opened their own online branches, as have newspapers like The Sun and The Daily Mail, while new online brands like Foxy Bingo have popped up to lead the online arena.

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Some online bingo enthusiasts insist that not much has changed. Speaking to the BBC, Anni Nevison, 21, says that it’s still all about the social element. “I get excitement and friendship,” says Nevison, who’s been playing since she was 18. “You go into a bingo site and it’s like a little family, it’s so chatty.”

In fact, for some people online bingo can be even more social. When you’re at a bingo hall, there tends to be a strict silence during play – other than the traditional bingo caller, of course. Online however, chat rooms tend to be buzzing and vibrant while the results come out, with friendly congratulations and commiserations too. You may even be on a different continent to the people you’re playing with, but you could even form a fast friendship with them.

The game is still big business, with 12% of women and 6% of men playing it, but much of that business is shifting online. Mecca Bingo reports that as much as a fifth of its income now comes from online games, and that’s only likely to rise in the future.

One of the attractions of online bingo, other than simply convenience, has been the sheer variety that it offers. Rather than the traditional, numerical game, themed variants have popped up to keep things interesting for regular players. Some swap out the numbers for jokey themes like marketing buzzwords, while others add complexity to the game by including unlockable content, power-ups and more, building up the ‘game’ aspect of bingo.

There’s plenty of diversity in how you access games too. There are loads of dedicated bingo websites, from brands both big and small, while bingo games are also available on the websites of many general online casinos too, like Euro Palace online, giving you the chance to try other games when you want a break from your bingo card. There are also apps available for smartphones and tablets, which opens up the possibility of playing games on the go, meaning that instead of setting time out for bingo, it can just be something you pick up and play during your bus journeys or long queues. Just make sure that you pay attention to your spending, as it can be easy to lose track when you’re playing spontaneously like this.

Written by Gareth Monet.

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