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2014 New Bingo Sites

Best new bingo sites for 2014. Find the best new place to play online bingo.

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New Bingo Sites 2014

2013 was a bumper year for new bingo sites and it will be interesting to see whether this continues in 2014. The year got off to rather a slow start and with the impending big changes in UK gambling law, it isn't surprising that anyone thinking of opening a new online bingo site might be feeling a bit nervous.

  1. Important changes afoot
  2. What does this mean for bingo sites?
  3. The future of wagering requirements?
  4. Networks to watch
  5. Mobile Bingo takes off
  6. Charity Bingo
  7. Relaunches

Important changes afoot

The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill has now become law.  Prior to Summer 2014, the vast majority of online bingo sites held licences that were issued, not by the UK Gambling Commission but by a foreign licensing body in a jurisdiction approved on a special white list.  The white list included Alderney, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Antigua and Barbuda and Malta.

The new legislation ends this, requiring all remote gambling sites to be regulated at the point of consumption if that is in the UK - and that will mean that bingo sites will soon need to have a (much more expensive) UK licence, although those with a whitelisted licence can continue to trade while the UK application is approved..

Furthermore, there is a move to tax (as well as regulate) remote gambling at the point of consumption - which means bingo sites with UK customers will have to pay 15% tax on the gross profits from those customers instead of the much lower rates of taxation they enjoy as a result of being based offshore.  This will come into effect in December 2014.  There has been some industry pressure to reduce the rate but for the moment it remains at 15% (worse for bingo sites than the 10% land based bingo halls now have to pay).

What does this mean for bingo sites?

Small sites may find it difficult to stay afloat due to the cost of a UK gambling licence, if a separate licence is needed for each site on a network rather than one to cover the whole network. It is STILL not clear whether this is going to be the case.

Bonus arrangements may also need to change depending on how they are affected by tax.  A large bonus with the gross profits taxed at 15% may prove to be too expensive for the bingo sites to keep on offering it.  Imagine an player who deposits £10, gets a £30 bonus and is unlucky and eventually loses the lot.  The bingo site has to pay 15% of the gross profits it makes, so if the tickets purchased with bonus funds are treated in the same way for tax as those purchased with the deposit that's 15% of £40 which is £6.  But the player only gave them £10 in the first place, so they are left with just £4 - which is unlikely to be enough to pay the operating costs of the site let alone make any profit.  They don't pay any tax if you win as in that case there aren't any gross profits - but they don't make any money either.  The bigger the bonus they offer, the worse the situation gets for them tax wise.

Bingo sites have already started to combat this by offering player incentives that would not have to be treated as cash for taxation purposes.  We have seen free or BOGOF bingo tickets, free spins on slots, tangible prizes with no cash alternative, prize draw entries...the list goes on.

The future of wagering requirements?

One change that we are already seeing, probably as a result of the taxation plans, is a move away from traditional wagering requirements which set the number of times you must play through before winnings from bonus funds are treated the same as cash, towards an arrangement where bonus funds are forfeited if funds are withdrawn (and therefore never treated the same as cash).

These changes might also be a result of a number of cases in which the Advertising Standards Authority wasn't happy with the way bonus offers and free bets were being advertised.

Networks to watch

Live Bingo Network
This network recently absorbed the Winners Bingo Network to become even bigger and better.  Their strengths are big bonuses, a mobile version that is super easy to use, and lots of network promotions.  These used to be all about extra deposit bonuses but now we are seeing more variety.

15 Network
The 15 Network continues to grow; at the moment there is no mobile play but it should arrive later this year.  These sites have a great community feel and no wagering requirement apart from an initial one-off.  They aren't all clones of each other, either, as there is the option for them to run exclusive promotions and standalone bingo rooms (though so far only Tidy Bingo has really taken advantage of this).

8Ball Games
8Ball Games have been opening new bingo sites, and buying old bingo sites, at a furious rate.  With one or two exceptions these are on the Dragonfish network.  So far not much has been done with any of these sites in terms of exclusive promotions etc, and it is disappointing to see that following their takeover of Bingo Giving in November 2013, the messages on the home page about donations to charity remained but the donations themselves apparently stopped for many months.  Could 8Ball be planning to transfer the player base from all these sites to a new network rather than develop the sites themselves any further?

Virtue Fusion Network
The Virtue Fusion network went from strength to strength in 2013.  The big name sites rolled out their mobile versions and the network promotions got even bigger and better.  Perhaps because of the impending taxation changes mentioned above, most Virtue Fusion sites offer no bonuses apart from the initial welcome bonus and instead have huge prizes and massive promotions to keep their players interested.  Where Virtue Fusion leads, the rest of the industry may follow.

Bede Gaming
Three sites using Bede Gaming's highly regarded bingo software have opened so far and no doubt there will be more to come in 2014.  Whether these sites will be networked or standalone remains to be seen.

Mandalay
The operators of Costa Bingo opened 3 new sites during 2014, all with a combination of standalone and networked games.  With seven sites and a loyalty scheme that is shared across all of them, it is starting to look like a fully blown network.

Mobile Bingo takes off

With most online bingo sites now offering a mobile/tablet service, and most of the ones that don't planning to do so soon, any new launches are going to need to cater to the growing army of mobile payers. We've already seen a slew of mobile-only promotions and this looks set to continue in 2014.

Charity Bingo

The taxation and regulation changes mean that charity bingo sites face an uncertain future (as they may become uneconomic to run). Big charities could still have associated bingo sites - such as Tickety Boo Bingo - because the charity itself can do all the promotion of the bingo site via its own site, rather than having to pay for advertising and promotion. Bingo sites that support smaller charities have to pay for that and with the new regime that could prove too expensive to do while giving any significant amounts to the charity. If the industry is to continue to support smaller charities it may need to be via charity bingo events rather than via charity sites.

Relaunches

Towards the end of 2013, three big name sites got a makeover - Costa, Paddy Power and 888 Ladies.  The purpose of this wasn't just to make the sites look nicer - although they do indeed all look much nicer now - but to improve player experience when playing on a tablet or mobile.  We expect to see a lot more of that in 2014 as sites move away from cut-down mobile apps to offering a much fuller service for mobile users thanks to the magic of HTML 5.