It used to be that bingo sites offering mobile bingo were the exception, but these days not only have they become very much the rule, but user-friendliness is massively improved from the early days.
How Mobile Bingo Works
Why don’t bingo sites that work on a desktop automatically work on a smartphone?
When bingo first went online, the vast majority of bingo and slots programs were written using Adobe Flash. Apple have never supported Flash and while early versions of Android did, more recent versions don’t. While it is possible to install Flash on some modern Android phones by overriding the security settings, this is not recommended and anyway the combination of Flash and a touchscreen rarely works well. An alternative way to get Flash on a phone or tablet is to install a proxy browser such as Puffin. Puffin run the Flash on their cloud servers. We do NOT recommend visiting any real money gambling sites of any kind via Puffin, one very important reason being that their servers are physically located in the USA where online gambling is illegal.
Playing via an app that needs to be downloaded
This is all very well if you are playing on an iOS device. Historically there was a problem with Android devices though, as Google doesn’t allow real money gambling apps in the Play store. It was therefore necessary to alter the device security settings in order to install an Android bingo app and players were understandably reluctant to do this. More recent Android phones pop up a warning when you try to install a non Play store app but offer the opportunity to choose to install anyway.
The situation with the Google Play store and gambling apps is not set in stone; the reason they are not allowed is that unlike the Apple store, the Play store is not geo-gated. Geo-gating would mean that real money gambling apps could be made available only for customers in parts of the world where online gambling is legal.
Modern iOS and Android bingo apps are actually written in HTML 5 and just have an iOS or Android wrapper which installs a shortcut on the phone removing the need to open the phone’s browser in order to visit the site.
Playing via an activation code or link sent to mobile
This is the method used by phone only casinos and is super easy to use, but it does have the result that they then have your phone number and you will almost certainly get marketing texts or calls. While it is nice to receive a text offering an extra bonus, it may arrive at a very inconvenient time.
Mobile version automatically loaded when you visit site with a mobile device
With this arrangement, when you visit the bingo site from the browser on your phone or tablet, the site auto-detects that and loads a version of the site that is optimised for your screen size (and does not use Flash). These mobile versions are written in HTML5 and there’s no need to download anything. That sounds great, but not all sites have the same approach to security:
- Secure browsing auto-enabled for entire session (Cozy and some Virtue Fusion sites)
- Auto-switch to secure browsing if you try to deposit (Dragonfish – this has now been changed to make the entire session secure)
Both approaches keep your financial information safe, but the second approach does open you to the possibility that someone might be able to get hold of your account password if you play over public wi-fi (in a coffee shop, for instance). Even if someone did get your password, all they would be able to do would be play bingo or slots – it’s very unlikely that they would be able to take any money out of your account due to the verification procedures that are done when someone requests a withdrawal – but it could be a problem if you used that password for anything else. The vast majority of bingo sites now use the first approach and this is easily spotted as the address in the browser bar will start with https instead of just http.
An Overview of Mobile Bingo Software
Dragonfish bingo sites now have a mobile version which is automatically loaded when you try to access the site from a phone or tablet. Some also have iOS and/or Android apps (the kind that are HTML5 inside a wrapper). It’s quite common for there to be exclusive mobile and tablet only bingo rooms and promotions. If it doesn’t mention the mobile service on the home page, it does NOT mean that there isn’t one; if in doubt it’s easy to check by visiting the bingo site from a mobile device prior to signing up, to see if a mobile version auto-loads. The mobile version works in portrait mode only and displays the tickets in a column down the screen. Chat is accessible via a pop-up so as not to clutter up the screen too much.
The Virtue Fusion bingo sites that belong to the really big name bookies all have mobile versions and in some cases iOS apps, and again it is not unusual to find special mobile promotions. It used to be the case that smaller name Virtue Fusion sites did NOT generally have a mobile service, but now that Playtech are replacing the old Flash desktop client with HTML5 which enables seamless play across all devices, mobile and tablet play is available everywhere. Again, it is possible to double check by visiting the site on your phone’s browser to see whether it serves up a mobile version. The Virtue Fusion mobile product works in portrait mode only and chat is accessible via a pop-up.
One very important thing to note about the Virtue Fusion mobile bingo is that the default view doesn’t show you your actual bingo tickets, but instead shows you how many TG each ticket is and which balls each ticket needs for the win, and this can take some getting used to (if you don’t like it you can switch it off but with the regular ticket view the numbers may be too small to see on a phone).
In early 2016 Virtue Fusion rolled out their first bingo variant that was clearly designed to be mobile friendly – in the form of the HTML5 only Cash Cubes- and we can expect more such games in the future.
Gamesys bingo sites generally have a mobile service but – and it is a very big but – until very recently you could not use it to play bingo, only slots and even now not all the bingo rooms are available. Virgin Games for instance only has one bingo room accessible from mobiles and none from tablets. Sapphire Bingo and Lounge Bingo at Jackpot Joy can be accessed from second generation and later iPads or via the Chrome browser on many Android phones.
All Cozy bingo sites have a very nice looking HTML5 mobile version and will auto detect your mobile device. It works in both portrait and landscape and even thoughtfully asks whether you would like to play with the sound on or off! There’s no chat on the mobile version though.
Kitty Bingo and Lucky Pants Bingo have an HTML5 mobile version and will auto detect mobile devices, but the cards are a bit small and hard to read in the mobile version and there’s no chat. The Jackpot Liner group of sites which are also managed by Daub Alderney have different software and no mobile service.
The Jumpman sites on the 15 Network now have a mobile version which looks almost exactly like the desktop version(but without some of the side games). The drawback of this is that due to the relatively small size of a phone screen, it can be quite hard to see what is going on. This is one that works best on a tablet.
Bede’s bingo software, which powers Bingo Godz and a few other sites, was originally developed with mobile play in mind so not surprisingly it looks great on a smartphone and there’s no need to download anything. The lobby works in either portrait or landscape mode but once inside a bingo room you’ll need to be in portrait. Chat is particularly easy to access as all you need to do is scroll down.
All Microgaming bingo sites have mobile versions now, even though most of them don’t advertise it on their desktop site. This is another mobile version that only works in portrait mode and has the chat in a pop up.
The Intouch mobile bingo platform is exclusive to mFortune and is really very good indeed (albeit 90 ball only). The chat is on the same screen as the bingo but does not look at all cramped, and everything else including things like the loyalty shop is just as easy to access on mobile as it is on desktop – in fact, the desktop version IS the mobile app running in a window.