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Free Bingo – Is It Too Good To Be True?

There are many variations of free bingo out there but they fall into two main types, the ones where you can potentially win real money and the ones where you can’t.

Free bingo games not involving real money

Bingo for entertainment only, never any real prizes

This includes the vast array of bingo games playable on Facebook and via bingo iPhone and Android apps.  These are NOT real money gaming (although you can spend real money on buying in game currency and power ups) and are strictly for fun.

Bingo with free cards and a few real prizes (but NOT cash)

Freebingo.co.uk is the best known of these and with a site like this, what you win in most games is in-game currency that cannot be cashed out, but may give you entries into a prize draw.  From time to time, however, there is a game with a tangible prize (but no cash alternative).  Because this type of site derives its revenue from advertising real money gaming sites, the tangible prizes are usually sponsored by one of the advertisers so expect them to be mostly promotional items such as keyrings, mugs and teddy bears from real money sites.

Free bingo games involving real money

Sounds great, doesn’t it – pay nothing for your bingo cards and have the chance of winning actual cash (or bingo bonus which can be used to buy cards to games where you can win real cash) – but actually, it is hardly ever that simple as we will go on to discuss.  Free bingo games that have real cash prizes and are open to all registered players are something of a rarity these days and you are more likely to come across one of these variations on the theme:

No deposit real money bingo

The cards in these games are not free but the bingo site offers a welcome bonus which does not require a deposit to be made so there is the opportunity, at least in theory, to win real cash without any financial outlay.  Bingo bonus cannot always be used in the same way as cash though; there are almost always restrictions on which rooms it can be used in and often on how many cards per game you are allowed to buy with it, or even how much you are allowed to win with it.  If you do win cash with your bingo bonus and manage to play through any wagering requirements, you are unlikely be able to withdraw it unless you make a deposit.

Free bingo for funded or depositing players only

This is a very common arrangement and it depends very much on what the bingo site’s definition of a funded player is.  You might think it would refer either to someone who has made a real money deposit at some point or maybe to someone who has cash in their account (not just bonus). In fact, a great many sites including the whole of 15 Network and the Dragonfish Network restrict access to free bingo to depositing players and that means players who have made a deposit very recently – usually in the last 7 days but in some cases as recently as in the last 24 hours.  Basically these bingo sites are using the free bingo as an incentive for players to make a deposit.  In order to be listed in our free bingo section, a bingo site must have a minimum of 1 hour a day or 10 hours a week of free bingo that does NOT require a recent deposit to have been made for the player to be allowed into the room.

Free bingo as part of a promotion

Here, you need to complete tasks in order to gain entry to the free room and these usually involve making deposits and/or playing cash on bingo or slots.  The Mandalay Media network regularly runs this type of promotion, typically with the free game at the end of the month and tasks to be completed during the month; the prizes they offer tend to be holiday or shopping vouchers that are worth a substantial amount.  Bingocams and Bright Bingo also sometimes have promotions of this type going on over a month or even longer.  Virtue Fusion bingo sites often have free bingo rooms with a minimum spend required the previous day, or over the preceding few days, to gain entry.

Free bingo for new players only

This type of free bingo promotion is most commonly found at Virtue Fusion bingo sites where there is often a dedicated free bingo room just for players in their first few days.  At Gala Bingo, for instance, new players get 4 hours of free bingo a day for their first 7 days and each game has a prize fund of £25 bingo bonus.  The Dragonfish network also has free bingo for new players but this is only for 72 hours, the prize fund per game is just £1 and the room is shared with everyone across the network who has made a deposit in the last 7 days.  Do be aware that when a bingo site advertises the newbie free bingo as, say, £5000 free bingo, they are talking about the total prize fund across all the games that the player could possibly join if they were in the bingo room for the maximum hours, and not the card value!

Free bingo but with extra cards or extra prizes for paying players

This arrangement allows anyone to play free bingo but gives an advantage to paying players, so in theory should keep everyone happy.  Examples are the free bingo tourney at Live Bingo Network where each player gets ten free cards and extra cards can be bought for 10p each, and the Free or Superbooks games at Virtue Fusion sites where free cards can be upgraded to pay cards: both types play alongside each other in the game, but if a pay card wins at Virtue Fusion the prize is bigger, often VERY much bigger than if a free card wins (in one case a measly £3 bingo bonus for a free card as opposed to a whopping £300 cash for a pay card).  With Superbooks there are typically very large numbers of free cards in play so the chance of a pay card winning is unlikely to be very high; if a free card wins none of the cash stakes have to be paid back out to the players which is great news for the bingo sites but not so much for the players with pay cards.

Free bingo but for bingo bonus prizes not cash

Again, this is a very common arrangement and popular with players as it enables them to keep playing after they run out of funds.  It is in the bingo site’s interest to offer this type of free bingo as it encourages people to play in both the free games, and in pay games with the bonus funds that they win from the free games. This creates more activity on the site which is great for keeping players interested as there’s more people around to liven up the chat. The wagering requirements ensure that the site gets good value in terms of player activity from any bonus funds they give out.

Free bingo that can’t be accessed by a person with any sort of normal life

Free bingo rarely has a pre-buy facility, so you would normally need to be in the room shortly before the game starts to claim tickets.  This is difficult to manage if the free bingo runs at an antisocial time such as the middle of the night or if the window for claiming the tickets is just a couple of minutes.

Free bingo cards

Some bingo sites give away free bingo cards to a specific game as part of their welcome offer or loyalty scheme or as part of another promotion.  One very common proviso is that the player must be in the bingo room at the time the game is run in order for the cards to play and this is definitely something to check on before deciding to take up an offer of this type.

Cozy bingo sites also give away free bingo cards but these are essentially a bingo bonus that can’t be used unless your account is empty of everything else.

Nasty surprises lurking in the small print

Furthermore, bingo sites generally (and understandably) don’t want to pay out large sums of money to players who have not made a deposit, so they impose caps and/or withdrawal restrictions on winnings from free bingo and/or no deposit bingo and these may not be immediately obvious without a thorough reading of the site terms and conditions.  Some sites have policies such as not letting non funded players enter certain bingo rooms or buy tickets to big jackpot games, or placing restrictions on who can win progressive jackpots (at Bingocams, for instance, you need to have made a deposit in the last 3 months to be eligible which does not seem unreasonable), but others cap the amount that anyone who has not yet made a deposit can win, or even cap the amount that can be won with free bonus money at any time.  The Live Bingo Network , for instance, resets any winnings when a first deposit is made, converting them into a casino bonus equal to the value of the deposit up to a maximum of £50.

Capping or resetting non funded bingo winnings (as opposed to slots winnings) impacts ALL bingo players, not just the ones whose winnings are subject to the rule.  The more real money players buy tickets for a bingo game, the bigger the prize gets and if no-deposit players are allowed to play and win, the prize that the real money players have funded may not ever actually be paid out at all but may end up being confiscated by the bingo site.

Withdrawal restrictions are also widespread and these are on top of any wagering requirements.  At sites with withdrawal restrictions, NO withdrawals of winnings are allowed unless a minimum deposit has been made into the account at some point.  The minimum varies but £30 is not uncommon and what this means is that not only can you not withdraw winnings from a no deposit bonus, you can’t withdraw them from your welcome bonus either unless you deposited £30 or more instead of the usual £10, or make a further deposit!

Big prizes for VIPs only

It’s also important to remember that while there may be cash to be won in open access free bingo rooms, it may not be very much cash; large cash jackpots for free bingo games tend to be in VIP rooms only, where the player needs to have deposited thousands to be allowed entry.  The bingo sites use these free games to reward loyal players.

The perils of overdoing free bingo

Finally, a word of warning; most if not all of the pay bingo sites that also offer free bingo games will eventually get annoyed if you play (in their view) too much free bingo and not enough pay bingo. Check the terms and conditions to see if there are guidelines as to how much is too much (some Dragonfish powered sites, for instance, say 120 free games a week is the upper limit).  In particular, we have heard of players who apparently overdid the free bingo at one of the sites managed by Cassava and ended up being banned from every Cassava-managed bingo site – that’s a lot of sites to be banned from!

Free Bingo – Network Overview

 

Virtue Fusion

The network runs many penny games (with very worthwhile prizes due to the extremely large number of players participating) but it is down to the individual sites to decide whether or not to run free games and most do; Gala for instance runs free games interspersed with pay games for several hours a day in the exclusive Allsorts room .  The prizes in Virtue Fusion powered free rooms are usually bingo bonus, often with larger cash prizes available via Superbooks.  Dedicated free bingo rooms for new players are a feature of some, but not all Virtue Fusion sites and again, the prizes in these are almost always bingo bonus.

Gamesys

Free bingo at Gamesys sites runs as part of special promotions.  To participate you need to have played £2 or more real cash in the preceding 7 days.

Microgaming

The Microgaming network has a 90 ball room which runs a free game every 30 minutes.  The room is only open in the late afternoon and early evening, the prize funds are typically £3 or £5 and you need to have made a “recent”deposit to take part.

Dragonfish Network

The Dragonfish main network made changes back in 2015 that involved getting rid of most of the free bingo.  4 free bingo rooms are advertised but all require a deposit to have been made in the last 7 days. Furthermore, one only has one game a week, one only has one game a day and the other two are not both open at the same time (one 9am – 6pm and one 6pm – 8pm).  So basically, there’s one room at a time running free bingo games and only recent depositors can play.

United Bingo

United Bingo/Netboost (Gossip Bingo, Loony Bingo and sister sites) are firmly in the free bingo for depositors only camp.  They have 1 free room for first time depositors, 1 for redepositors (both just for one day), and 1 for each level of their VIP scheme (all requiring a deposit in the last 5 days).  On the plus side, the prizes are all quite substantial.

Mandalay Media

With the exception of Fancy Bingo which concentrates on penny bingo, the Mandalay bingo sites all have several flavours of free bingo – some open to all (this includes both 75 and 90 ball), some for newbies, some for recent depositors and some for special prize games. The jewel in the crown is the £10K sliding jackpot Friday night game that runs at their more popular sites; any player who has deposited in the last 7 days can claim 6 free tickets to this up to a week in advance and they do not need to be in the room when the game runs.  These bingo sites do have a stipulation in the terms and conditions about not playing too much free bingo and as well as having a wagering requirement they all require a minimum deposit to be made (usually £20) before winnings can be cashed out.

Joy Of Bingo Network

The Joy of Bingo sites have a number of shared free bingo rooms.  There is a free room that is open for 2 hours in the morning, 2 hours at lunchtime and 4 hours in the evening for anyone who has ever made a deposit at any of their sites, with prizes of £1 or £2 bingo bonus.  There’s also hourly games with £20 bonus to be won for those who have deposited in the last 3 days, a weekly £1000 game for those who have deposited in the last 7 days, and a weekly £250 game for mobile and tablet players.  The new player free room is 75 ball and accessible for 3 days from registration, with £20 bingo bonus to be won every hour.

Other 888/Dragonfish powered sites

Foxy Bingo has occasional free bingo for funded players and newbie and VIP free rooms, but is better known for giving out free bonuses (in the periodically featured free daily games) than free bingo.

Bingo Hollywood has a free 90 ball room with a FH prize of 50p which is open to all registered players, and one with slightly bigger prizes and games every half hour for those who have made a deposit in the last 7 days. There’s also a newbie room which is open for 3 hours in the evening.  They have the same clause in the terms and conditions as the Mandalay sites about not playing too much free bingo, and a £30 deposit is required (as well as filling the wagering requirement) before any bonus winnings can be cashed out.

Live Bingo Network

Free bingo here and at the Best Bingo Network is presented as a tournament and the rules for this have been changed several times now.  It is supposedly a 2 level tournament but as of November 2016 the second level seems to have gone AWOL.  The first level is 50 ball and players get 10 free tickets as long as they are in the room at the time.  Extra tickets can be bought for 1p each.  Line and full house prizes are £1 plus 2 free tickets for level 2.  The Level 2 games were Cozy’s Wizard of Bingo 75 ball variant where the aim is to have the last card that has not been eliminated.  Players must have made at least one deposit to be allowed into the free room – no entry to anyone playing with the no deposit bonus!  Live Bingo Network also gives away “free bingo tickets” which are worth 5p each against the cost of bingo cards; you can win real cash with these but they can only be used if your account is empty of both cash and bonus.

Other Cozy sites

Game Village‘s Lucky Duck Network has the Chip Van free bingo room, but these 50 ball games run on just a few days a month and are for “homeowners” only (this requires 3 initial deposits then a regular deposit every 30 days).

Daub Alderney

Daub Alderney’s free rooms all require a recent deposit.  Only one of them runs games all the time and entry to that, and to the daily £50 jackpot,  is restricted to those who have made a deposit that day.  There are also three rooms with weekly or monthly games with substantial prizes and these are for the upper tiers of the VIP scheme and still require a deposit to have been made during the preceding 7 days.

15 Network/Wheel of Slots

The Jumpman powered networks both have free bingo rooms which are only open to those who have deposited in the last 7 days.  15 Network’s free room – which is a 90 ball room with £1 bonus money to be won in each game –  is open for 4 hours a day and there’s also a VIP free room which is open 10pm – midnight.  The Wheel of Slots free room is open at lunchtime only.  The exception to this is Rocket Bingo which has quite a bit of free bingo for all (albeit with very small prizes).

GTech

This network has ceased operation.

Others

Bingocams have free games with substantial prizes for each of the higher levels of their VIP scheme, but to be allowed into the room you need to have made a deposit of at least £10 in the last 14 days.  Another free room runs for 2 hours a day and is open to anyone who has deposited at least £10 in the last 30 days. Yet another room has a daily £100 guaranteed jackpot game just for those who have deposited that day. Finally there is one with a game every half hour that does not require a deposit but the FH prize is only £1 and you have just 2 minutes in which to claim your free cards before the game starts.  Bright Bingo has a similar game every half hour but the FH prize is £1.50, only 150 players are allowed in the room and they must have made at least one deposit at some point.  There’s also a couple of regular free games for recent depositors.

Health Bingo and other Bede Gaming sites have a free 90 ball bingo room which is open at various times during the day but the FH prize is only 50p and winnings are capped at £20 for non depositing players.

Mainstage Bingo and other White Hat powered sites do not have any free bingo as such (but they do give out huge bonuses).

Tombola does not have any free bingo but has the Go Fish SMS game which is free to play for anyone who has played £2 real money in the previous week.

Relax Gaming have some free bingo in one of their 90 ball rooms.

 

But Is it Really Free?

In the wake of the new UK licensing regime and the POC Tax, free bingo is not as easy to find as it once was, but there is still quite a bit of it out there.  Play for free and win for real – sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  We’ve talked above about some of the ways in which it might turn out to be too good to be true. But even in the case of a free to play game with genuine prizes – who pays for the prizes? When it comes down to it, the cost of the prizes comes out of the bingo site’s profits – and therefore, ultimately, is paid for by you, the players.