In 2004 fewer than 20 online bingo sites existed here in the UK. Purists still favoured virtual versions of card games and the idea that bingo could catch on with so many users online was alien to many. Now it’s estimated that there are 350 such sites in operation here – an astronomical level of growth in less than a decade and proof, if it was needed, that the British love their bingo. Operators include everyone from bingo hall owners Mecca and Gala, to newspapers like The Sun and Daily Mail.
The likes of Foxybingo.com, one of the fore-runners in the industry here, brought glamour to the sector by using ambassadors such as top model Jordan in its promotion.
They had their own dedicated radio station and fruity advertising campaigns.
Far removed from the stuffy bingo halls with their big old concrete walls and plastic chairs the practice of dressing up -what was essentially the same game – as something more modern and desirable worked wonders.
Young players are also attracted to the social aspect of such a site. Anni Nevison, a 21-year-old, plays two or three times a week, including five hours on a Sunday.
“I get excitement and friendship,” says Nevison, who has been playing since she was 18. “You go into a bingo site and it’s like a little family, it’s so chatty,” she says of the other players she messages in the sites’ chatrooms.