Online bingo growth- well no one can deny it's happening that's for sure.
Q. What's bright pink, grows bigger every day and gets women ridiculously excited?
A. No, it's not what you're thinking, you mucky pup – the answer is online bingo.
You can barely turn on the TV or radio, or drive down the street without being smacked in the face by an advert for a bright pink bingo site – it's the craze that's sweeping the UK, and guess what – this is just the beginning. The growth of online bingo started in in 2004, when there were only 20 or so sites to entertain hungry players, but now there are almost 400, with new bingo sites launching on a weekly basis, like a particularly virulent pink and purple rash.
So what is it that makes bingo so ridiculously popular and the online bingo growth rate go through the roof? Possibly it's the social aspect – in the past, women visited bingo halls to meet their friends, to socialise in a safe environment, and to potentially win a little bit of cash. Nowadays, every online bingo site has its own chat room, presided over by a chat moderator. Chat moderators make sure everybody's happy and sociable – you can also rely on your chat moderator to run chat games, where players can pick up extra bonuses for competing in various challenges, such as fastest finger first, or guess the colour of the ball.
Playing virtual bingo is an excellent antidote to social isolation too - to people with limited mobility, and people who live in remote areas , it can be a lifeline.
And unlike traditional bingo halls, where talking is frowned upon, chatting is actively encouraged, and there is never the danger of missing a number, because the clever software marks the numbers off automatically.
Then there's always the chance of chance of winning cash – tickets can cost between 1p and £2, and winnings can be many thousands of pounds. Players typically spend more than they win – after all, it's a game of chance, and not skill.
Online bingo also became popular after the smoking ban. In 2007 players stubbed out their fags for the last time and profits, and attendances fell sharply. Players had to go and stand outside for their nicotine fix, meaning less profit made at the bars and on slot machines.
And as with land-based bingo, slot machines are all part of the experience, except you don't have to leave your chair to play one online. The software is able to multi-task, meaning players can fire up a favourite slot simultaneously alongside their bingo game. This increases the odds of winning, and some slot games have multi-million pound progressive jackpots. As the old land based crew left the building they contributed to the online bingo growth.
The recent feminisation of gambling is leading to problems though. In the past, gambling addiction was seen as a a male problem – visiting the bookies or playing online poker was something for the lads only. But now women are getting addicted to bingo – what starts as a harmless flutter can lead to theft, debt, repossession, and bankruptcy.
There has been a significant rise in the amount of women with an online gambling addiction, especially bingo players. Those bright, cartoon characters, fun sound effects, and enticing adverts make it all look like a bit of fun, but there is a dark side to those bright pink software portals. Plus, it's easier to play in secret now – you can play most sites on your mobile too, making it easy to sneak in a game whenever you're alone.
Gambling addiction can ruin lives, so remember to set sensible limits when you play, and never ever bet more than you can afford to lose. If you think you're developing a problem, contact a charity like Gamcare and nip it in the bud.
Yep, those TV adverts may make bingo look cute and fluffy, but it's got a bite. Be careful, roomies, and handle with care.