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2018 Bingo Industry Report and Analysis

2018 was a dynamic year for online bingo operators and the iGaming industry as a whole. With the main focus on regulation and compliance, a delay in gambling legislation led to the resignation of a minister, while the CEO of the NHS was set on having betting operators pay for addiction treatment, and the UKGC was nowhere near over its hefty fine spree. Stricter regulations on advertising were imposed, yet there was a rise in TV ad spend by 15% compared to last year. No-deposit bonuses were abandoned by operators who instead focused on fairer wagering requirements and customer retention. And while the big brands were focused on launching new software, white label bingo sites continued to proliferate. In our 2018 online bingo industry analysis, we look at how these changes have influenced both bingo players and operators.

Sites and Memberships

2018 saw a decline in the number of bingo sites

How many active bingo sites are there?
The number of active bingo sites has declined from 420 at the end of 2017 to 398 in 2018. Given the raised taxes and stricter regulations, it’s easy to see why not only many of the announced 2018 openings never happened, but also many operators, particularly smaller ones, were forced to cease operations. The big networks shifted focus from new launches to making their active sites compliant with the new regulations regarding advertising, site design, and responsible gambling. Seven bingo halls were closed in the six-month period between March 2018 and September 2018, which, compared to the 13 openings in the year between March 2017 and March 2018, is also an indication of a stagnant industry.
How many people have multiple bingo accounts?
Fewer sites naturally correlates with fewer new accounts. However, that is not the only reason why the number of players who own accounts with multiple sites keeps growing smaller. 12% of players had membership with more than 15 sites, and the percentage of those who were registered with 11-15 sites was just 6, which can easily be ascribed to the scarcity of no-deposit bonuses and tough wagering requirements. The majority of online bingo players hold between one and five accounts, and, instead of claiming bonuses at new operators, most players prefer to go back to brands that offer loyalty rewards. Still, statistics show that players enjoy a bit of variety, as only 10% hold accounts with just one bingo site.
Loyalty depend on fairer wagering requirements

While more than half of online bingo players prefer to stay loyal to their favourite bingo brands, fairer wagering requirements and transparency have changed players’ attitude towards bonuses.

Players’ Profiles

An increase in the number of older players for the first time in three years

For years, bingo operators have been trying to diversify their main demographic of women between the ages of 35 and 65 with more versatile propositions. Yet, while in 2017 we saw an increase in male players and players under 34, in 2018 women accounted for 88% of all players – up from 75% in 2017. Players aged 18 – 34 were 25% in 2017 but their number dropped to 17% in 2018, while the percentage of people aged 55 – 64 went up by 5%. The number of online bingo players over 65 has also increased – from 5% in 2017 to 8% in 2018. Most bingo players wouldn’t describe themselves as gamblers, confirming the general perception of bingo as a form of entertainment rather than a gambling activity.
Players by Age Groups
Players under the age of 35 say they are more likely to gamble outside their home, and so the decrease in people who use mobile devices to play bingo could be ascribed to the drop in the number of younger players. Although almost all bingo operators have developed mobile apps for iOS and Android, almost half of all people who use primarily their mobile device to play are more likely to use the device’s browser to access the bingo site instead of downloading an app. Despite the availability of apps, mobile-friendly games, and the convenience of single-wallet accounts, only 36% of players will use more than one device to log into their account, which is almost the same percentage as in 2017 (35%).
The most widely used devices for bingo.

Almost half of the players who use handheld devices like smartphones and tablets to play online bingo prefer to access sites via mobile browsers instead of downloading dedicated apps.

Players use more their mobile device’s web browser than app

Spending Habits

Players are depositing more on average than they were in 2017

Deposit Amounts
Data from the past year shows a significant increase in the number of players who deposit more than £50 monthly, with the number of people depositing more than £100 having gone up by 8%. Deposits under £10 are least common, while players who spend between £10 and £50 on bingo deposits are the biggest segment for yet another year. In regard to games, slots are becoming almost as popular as bingo rooms. 2018 shows a rejuvenated interest in welcome bonuses and promotions, as more people say they are aware of what the promotional terms and conditions are.
Withdrawal Amounts
The number of players who have made successful withdrawals over the past year has increased by more than 10%, with 90% of all surveyed players saying they have cashed out winnings in 2018. Of those, 11% have been denied a withdrawal, with failed ID verification being the most common reason. In terms of the amount of withdrawals, over a third of players would request a cashout after they’ve won at least £50, and 19% say they will need to have £100 in their wallet before proceeding to cash out. Another third of players are inclined to request smaller withdrawals – up to £25.
In 2018 players claim that easily withdraw is important

Bingo players are still interested in £5 deposits, and there is an increase in the number of people who have expressed willingness to claim a bingo bonus. With smaller deposits and fairer wagering requirements, operators have managed to restore players’ interest in promotions. In 2017, over 60% of players said they would rather miss out on a bonus offering than meet rollover requirements. In 2018, this number has dropped to 55%.

Playing Habits

Playing sessions are becoming longer and more frequent

Bingo Playing Sessions
When it comes to the frequency and duration of playing sessions, this year’s survey reveals that people are playing more often and for longer. Although the percentage of people who would describe themselves as gamblers has increased from 38% to 44%, for the majority of participants, online bingo is a form of entertainment rather than gambling, and almost 90% of all surveyed say they log in for a play session at least once every week – an eight-percent increase since 2017. A bigger increase is noticeable among the people who play every day. Still, bingo players play less for real money than all other forms of gambling and betting.
The number of players who spend 2 – 3 hours in one sitting has increased by 10%, while the percentage of people whose playing sessions last between 30 and 60 minutes has decreased from 27% to 17%. Among the most popular brands that players log in to most often are Sun Bingo, tombola – the only proprietary software platform in the top 10, as well as Gamesys-powered Heart Bingo and Jackpotjoy. Brand recognition is a leading factor for players when choosing a site, and they also list sign-up offer, fair terms and conditions, and payment methods as the top three criteria on which they base their choice whether to sign up with a brand or not.
Bingo Playing Sessions Duration

Game Preferences

Slots are becoming almost as popular as bingo rooms

Not only do all bingo sites abound with hundreds of slots, but many operators have already launched separate platforms like Wink Slots to meet players’ demand. 888Ladies feature their proprietary slots front and center, with slots promotions almost as many as their bingo ones. Although networks like Jumpman Gaming are leaning towards slots, companies like Pragmatic Play and Yggdrasil are entering the bingo market. While we may have to wait for standalone bingo sites to be launched, it will be interesting to see bingo incorporated into their casino platforms and how this would shake things up.
Game Preferences of Players-
Other Forms of Gambling
When asked about what other forms of gambling and betting they engage in, almost 70% of surveyed bingo players have said slots. This is hardly a surprise, considering players say they log in to bingo sites to play slots almost as much as bingo – at just 4% difference. For the same reason, launches of casino and slots sites far outnumber the openings of bingo sites. Even though bingo sites feature a host of other casino games, even crossovers like 888Ladies’ Bingo Roulette and live games, only 10% of players have said they play card and table games, after scratch cards and lottery.

Sites Openings & Closures

No drastic changes in the number of active bingo sites

New Bingo Sites in 2018
Dragonfish are again behind the majority of new site launches in 2018. While Mr Q did make it to market with their first dedicated bingo site, the other two software providers who promised bingo platforms – Yggdrasil and Pragmatic Play – are yet to launch their own active bingo sites. Having seen a preview of their bingo products, we’re expecting exciting launches in 2019 from them. Jumpman Gaming had five new launches on the 15 Network and migrated three existing sites to the Jumpman platform. Compared to their 39 slots sites openings, it’s obvious that the brand’s focus remains on slots. Cozy come in third with three new active sites launched in 2018.
2018 was a time for reflection for bingo operators. Companies had to consider the effects of taxation and marketing restrictions on profitability and liquidity, as well as the introduction of GDPR regulations on protecting players’ data and KYC practices. Despite the changes in regulation and the need for compliance, the number of closures is almost the same as the one from 2017, so we can safely say that the industry is not in a state of tumult. However, there have been some reshuffles. GVC moved Think Bingo to the Cozy platform that it acquired as part of its ElectraWorks subsidiary and closed five other Cashcade brands on Dragonfish.
Sites Closures in 2018
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