Is bingo popular in the U.K.?

20th March 2022

Even though the game has rapidly garnered global attention in recent years, for many people, the first place they might think of when they think of bingo is the U.K. It is, in many ways, the birthplace of the modern version of the game. It’s where it originally took on its present form.

So, is bingo still popular in the U.K. today? The short answer is yes, extremely so. Today, it’s even more popular than it ever was—though, admittedly, in different forms. 

Let’s look at how and why bingo is still popular in the U.K. today. 

Traditional bingo halls 

The birthplace of the modern craze for bingo was certainly the brick-and-mortar bingo hall, many of which still loom large across the U.K. to this day. At the time of writing, there are at least 350 active bingo halls across the country, providing the same quality game they have for decades. 

There was a sharp decline in the success of these bingo halls at the time when the internet was first taking hold. Between 1995 and 2000, the number of active bingo halls fell by 21%–this seemed to spell disaster for many. 

Traditional bingo halls did suffer as a result of the launch of the National Lottery and the later smoking ban, as well as the internet, but they have seen a considerable rise back to fame in recent years. Attendance and revenue have been steadily climbing for the last ten years or so, and as the popularity of the online game has risen, so too has the bingo hall of old come back into the spotlight. 

Don’t discount the importance of the physical bingo hall in the popularity of the game, past or present. 

Online bingo 

Despite that, though, it is impossible to deny the role of the internet and online bingo in the game’s enduring popularity. Since more or less the earliest days of the internet, online versions of the game began springing up. As more accessible and more convenient ways to play began to spring up, playing bingo became easier than ever. It could now be done from the comfort of your own home. 

With the development of smartphones and mobile apps, this has only become even more true. 

Today, around 3.5 million people play online bingo. Around 12% of all women play the game in some form or another. And the demographics are changing, too. Whereas it was once, primarily, the activity of the older generation, it is not much more intergenerational. 62% of all online bingo players are under 45, and 20% are aged 18-24. 

Online bingo sites have also meant that anyone who has access to the internet can play. In the past, any accessibility issues would have made it harder for certain people to participate in the game. The internet entirely did away with those limitations. 

So, as much as the role of the traditional bingo hall in the game’s overall popularity cannot be ignored, it’s also quite plain to see the level of impact the online game has had. 

Where is bingo headed? 

So, there’s one simple answer to the original question we posed: yes, bingo is enormously popular in the U.K. in both of its primary forms. It’s success as an industry has waned and changed over the years, sometimes showing signs of slowing down, other times of speeding up.

So, what can we expect for the future popularity of bingo in the U.K.? Well, one of the ways the game has survived is by constantly reinventing itself for a new audience. As I said, many of those who enjoyed the traditional game were older citizens, and they are still more than catered for in the number of traditional halls and games available.

But alternative bingo nights, such as Bongo’s Bingo, reinvent the game for a younger audience. These nights combine the game with drinking, dancing, and generally having a good night. This attracts newer, younger players as well as the veterans, too. 

Combined with mechanics and gameplay innovations of the world of online bingo, the game has nowhere to go but up. Variety of games has been one of the subtler ways that the popularity of the game has been driven. Whereas most bingo halls offered around three versions of the game, online bingo sites are constantly innovating and bringing new and exciting versions of the game right to player’s fingertips. 

One thing is for sure, then: bingo is not going anywhere anytime soon. Whether we are talking about the traditional games and bingo halls, the vast array of online bingo games, the alternative bingo nights, the endless versions of the game being constantly innovated—bingo is and will continue to be massively popular in the U.K. for many years to come. 

If you’ve ever wondered whether you should give it a try, now is certainly the time.