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Online bingo is the game of bingo (US|UK) played on the Internet. It is estimated that the global gross gaming yield of bingo (excluding the United States) was US$500 million in 2006, and it is forecasted to grow to $1 billion by 2010.
Unlike balls used in regular bingo halls, online bingo sites use a random number generator. Most bingo halls also offer links to online poker and casino offerings as the patrons are often in the target market. One notable feature of online bingo is the chat functionality. Bingo sites strive to foster a sense of community and interaction between players as this helps customer retention.
Main types of bingo games
There are four main types of bingo played around the world. In live North American bingo halls, they typically play the 75-ball version of bingo on a 5x5 card with the center square usually marked 'free'. The letters B-I-N-G-O typically sit atop the 75 ball bingo card and they correspond with each of the five columns found on the bingo card.
The desired pattern which players aim to achieve in 75 ball can vary dramatically, from a simple single line to more complicated themed patterns. The aim of the game, however, is always the same: to mark off the numbers to achieve the desired pattern. Speed Bingo is a variation played exactly the same, but numbers are simply called much quicker.
In the UK, parts of Europe, Australia and parts of South America they play a 90-ball game, marked on a 9x3 card. Both types of bingo are prominent online. In 90-ball bingo, each card has three horizontal lines and nine columns. Each line contains five numbers, meaning each card has 15 numbers. The first column contains numbers from 1-9, the second column contains numbers from 10-19, the third column contains numbers from 20-29, all the way through to the final column which contains numbers from 80-90.
A game of 90 ball bingo will normally be played in three stages: one line, two lines and full house. In a "one line" game players need to mark a complete horizontal line across one card (i.e., 5 numbers marked). The aim of a 'two lines' game is to complete any two marked lines horizontally across one card (i.e., 10 numbers marked). Finally a “full house” means all the numbers marked off on one card (all 15 numbers), as in a regular coverall game. The prize split differs for each stage of the game. The prize will be shared equally among the winners if there is more than one. The full house is always the largest prize in any one game.
A third type of bingo game is a rather quick game of bingo. It is played with 30 balls, numbered one through thirty and appropriately known as 30 ball bingo or speed bingo. The 30 ball bingo game utilizes a 3 × 3 card and the object of the game is to be the first bingo player to "fill" his or her card, which requires all nine numbers on your card to match the numbers that have been called out.
The fourth main type of bingo game is 80 ball bingo, which is a hybrid between the 75 ball bingo rules and 90 ball bingo rules. The bingo cards are 4x4, thus they contain 16 numbers. Prizes are awarded in 80 ball bingo vary, depending on the game played. Some of the ways to win 80 ball bingo include being the first player to complete an entire line on their bingo card. The "line" can be horizontal, diagonal, or vertical. Getting "four corners" also constitutes a win in some 80 ball bingo games, whilst other games require multiple lines (1 or two lines), and still others require a full house.
One of the earliest known online bingo games, launched in 1996, was a free bingo game called "Bingo Zone". To play, members had to provide demographic information; in turn, members would receive targeted ads based on the demographics provided. Another early pioneer for free online bingo was Uproar, which launched Bingo Blitz in 1998.
Most sites accept a standard range of e-wallet funding options. Sites often provide a number of incentives to deposit, including matching bonuses where the site will reward depositing players by matching a percentage of their deposit.
In 2006, the US government passed UIGEA Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 which stopped banks' ability to process credit cards for US citizens. The laws prevent US based payment providers from taking payments for online gaming.
Playing bingo online, players can make use of optional features which make playing the game easier, such as auto-daub. Auto-daub automatically marks off the numbers on cards as they are called, so players don't have to. Most software providers support other gaming features as "Best Card Sorting" and "Best Card Highlighting" where players cards are sorted and highlighted by closest to bingo.
There is variety among the different kinds of bingo games that can be played. For example, some inexpensive game rooms appeal to the player who may want to play for just a 10 cents or 10 pence; some bingo games only allow players to purchase the same amount of cards so they are not competing against the "high rollers" out there who buy many cards for the same game.
Whereas in land-based bingo where talking is strictly forbidden during a game, it is actively encouraged in online bingo. Chat functions as an effective retention tool, aimed especially at the predominantly female audience.
It is customary for players to congratulate winning players with comments like "WTG," or "Way To Go". Much like instant messaging, online bingo chat communities have their own acronyms which are often used in replace of often repeated sentences.
CM stands for "chat monitor". (This can also stand for chat moderator; in some other sites you may have "CH" which stands for chat host.) The CM works for the bingo site as the host of a chat room and plays a role in welcoming players and creating a friendly and communal atmosphere in the room. This includes, but is not limited to, congratulating players when they win a game as well as playing chat games in-between bingo. Most sites have a chat protocol known as chat etiquette or chatiquette.
There are a number of sites that will have the same promotions, similar graphics, the same bingo rooms and the same CMs. This occurs because they are part of a bingo "network". In simple terms, this means a number of different sites (or "front ends") are playing with the same numbers for the same jackpot (i.e., the same back end). Multiple sites act as doorways to a single game, leading to larger pools of players in chat rooms and more sizable pots to win, in an arrangement known as White Label Gaming. While the bingo software is the same, the brand owners are responsible for the look and feel of the site, together with any promotions they wish to offer. This is an important feature of online bingo in that it is critical that any site have enough players to have a decent sized game. Hence, the bingo network "shares" players. Some operators choose not to pool their players together and because they segregate their players, they operate on a stand-alone network, which again can be via "white label" (Brigend Limited is the most commonly used stand-alone white label software) or can be done through the use of proprietary software.
Online bingo in the UK
Bingo is a popular leisure activity for people in the UK. More than 3 million people now play online bingo in the UK. The UK market has seen an influx in big brand names launching bingo games on their already established websites in addition to a number established land based operators including Mecca and Gala also entering the market. More recently "charity bingo" has become established.
Gambling on mobile devices has seen rapid growth during 2011-13. Rank Group, the company behind Mecca Bingo has seen strong growth in mobile revenues with mobile accounting for 6% of their interactive divisional revenues in 2011. Mobile bingo products have been cited as particularly difficult to produce due to the difficulty of integrating social and chat functions which are seen as important to the gaming experience.
Bingo on Facebook differs from traditional online or land based bingo games. Most games feature 'power-ups' which give individual players an advantage on winning the game when using such power-ups. Players can also collect, buy and share virtual items with friends on the Facebook platform. This adds to the community element which is otherwise not experience in other forms of online and land based bingo. Some great examples of Facebook bingo games are BamBam Bingo, Bingo Blitz and Bingo Island.
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