Electronic bingo could well be the future of UK bingo halls – but what exactly is it? What are the advantages to us as bingo players? And will it kill off the traditional game of bingo for good? Let’s take a closer look……..
What is Electronic Bingo?
This is a general term which covers the operation of a bingo game in a traditional manner but without the usual paper bingo tickets. Instead some form of electronic device is used to record the numbers by the player as they are called – in effect an electronic bingo card.
Just to make it clear what we are not talking about here – slot machines playing bingo games or commercial bingo calling systems or number display boards. Yes these are electronic and yes they are bingo relevant. But we would class these as a bingo machine as opposed to part of the world of electronic bingo.
How do I play Electronic Bingo?
This will depend very much on where you are playing as each bingo hall – or chain – will operate in their own way with their own equipment. But the general procedures will be as follows:-
- Each player will operate their own electronic bingo card which may be in one of two variations –
- Hand-held device looking very much like a portable games machine.
- Static terminal screen looking like a computer workstation.
- The player will choose the number of cards they would like to play. Theoretically this number is endless, though in practice the bingo hall (and the player’s purse) is likely to limit this.
- As each of the bingo calls are made it is up to the player to enter the number into his or her machine – this may be via buttons or a touch screen display.
- The device itself will check this number and ‘daub’ it onto each and every relevant card. The card or cards which are closest to providing a win will display on the screen.
- If a card produces a win then this outcome is displayed – it is up to the player to call ‘Bingo’ or ‘House’ as usual.
Now as mentioned above, there will be variations on this. For instance, payment methods may be via reception area or through some form of account.
Also alternatives exist as to how the card is checked – it is quite possible to have the game controlled completely by your device as it is linked to the system as a whole. This can even do away with the requirement to shout your win. In theory you could pick your cards and then go away for a drink while the machine does everything for you.
What are the advantages & disadvantages?
Firstly, electronic bingo games open up the doors to people who may have previously been unable to participate. For anyone with certain forms of disability the device taking over some of the work can make playing the game of bingo possible.
Secondly, it invites a whole new audience. It is recorded that there has been a dramatic rise in ‘twenty something’ men going to bingo now that they have an electronic gadget to play with! Together with the introduction of online bingo, the game is now becoming socially acceptable for everyone.
And the disadvantages? Probably not as many as you’d think – at least not while there is still a human element involved. Experienced traditional players are just as quick with their ‘find and daub’ method as those who are tapping in a number – if not quicker!
But what about the option to play so many cards at once? Doesn’t this put the electronic bingo player at a huge advantage over players with ‘only’ six tickets? Well yes of course – in that game. But what it also does is increase the money going into the pot and therefore the potential winnings. And the reality is that most players quickly realise that by blowing their whole evening’s budget on 100 cards in a single game makes for a very short night of entertainment!
Can I still play the traditional way?
Yes – for now. There are a few bingo halls which now operate completely electronically but the vast majority will still run both forms of bingo side by side. But for how long that remains ….. only time will tell.
However, the investment required for electronic bingo is vast – Mecca have reportedly invested £6.5 million so far. So many smaller or independent bingo halls will be completely unable to follow this route.
And of course there will always be your local village bingo or pub events!