Of the 3.5 million bingo players in the UK, over 700,000 of them are now under the age of 45. The figure represents a 16 per cent increase in the number of players under 45 over the last decade. Where bingo was once seen as a pastime favoured by pensioners, it seems that the face of bingo in the UK is changing, with a number of factors drawing in younger players for a spot of eyes down action for the first time.
The past decade has seen the game of bingo changed beyond recognition by the internet. With sites like Jackpotjoy springing up, offering a more convenient way to play, bingo fans can now play their favourite game anywhere, any time, without having to venture out to their nearest bingo hall. Online chat facilities ensure that the game remains as social a pastime as ever, and playing games online may have encouraged younger players to try their hand at the land-based version too.
Major sites have also been running youth-friendly advertising campaigns to give a fresh new face to the game. Colourful adverts promoting the fast-paced, fun aspect of bingo has livened up the game’s image, with flashy online graphics and a greater range of bingo variants drawing in new online players.
The phenomenal success of sites like Jackpotjoy at drawing in millions of players worldwide also means that they can offer far more impressive cash jackpots than ever before. Progressive jackpots, that grow as more players join the game, means that players can now potentially win huge, life-changing sums in an instant – far higher payouts than they’ll find at local bingo halls.
Celebrity endorsements have also helped to lend the game a bit of glamour. In the UK, national treasure Barbara Windsor (left) has become the cheeky, friendly face of bingo through the latest Jackpotjoy campaigns, while the like of Kate Moss, Sadie Frost, Cheryl Cole, Jade Jagger and Catherine Zeta Jones have all come out as secret bingo lovers in recent years.
In America, famous names are often spotted at charity bingo games, with the likes of Paris Hilton, Minnie Driver, Jennifer Love-Hewitt and Daryl Hannah being photographed at fundraising bingo events. For celebrities, it may just be a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun, the down-at-heel image of bingo an ironic contrast to these stars’ ultra-glamorous Hollywood image, but the effect is to glamorise the game itself, making it a more acceptable, playful way to have fun for a whole new generation of younger bingo fans.
Perhaps inspired by the youth-friendly world of online bingo, the traditional bingo halls themselves have been keen to tap into this new audience for the game in recent years. Bricks and mortar bingo halls are increasingly promoting themselves as all-round entertainment venues, providing a nostalgic night out for youngsters looking for something a little different. Bingo halls now lay on live music concerts, quizzes and talent shows alongside the bingo games themselves, creating lounge areas, and serving up cocktails and hot meals to a new crowd of fans keen to seek out an alternative way to spend the weekend away from the nightclubs they’re used to partying the night away in.
At a time when online bingo sites and the global recession are weighing heavy on traditional bingo halls, this new influx of bingo players couldn’t have come at a better time. And as long as bingo halls are ready and willing to adapt to their new audience, they could see plenty more full houses for years to come.