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The Rough Guide to Bingo Promotions

In the course of compiling the Best New Bingo Sites Promotions of the Month page and finding the bingo sites that run the best promotions,  we’ve come across all manner of different types of bingo promotions, including some truly awful ones described in The Worst Bingo Promotions Ever.  Here is our comprehensive guide to everything you always wanted to know about bingo promotions.

 

No Deposit Bonuses

These are “free” money the bingo site gives you to play with, without any money having been paid in by you.  This can either be done as a welcome offer enabling you to try before you buy, or as an incentive later on. Sounds great, but there are a few caveats:

  • Winnings from no deposit bonuses are almost always capped at a modest sum (£30 is common)
  • You’ll almost certainly have to make a deposit to get any winnings out
  • There will probably be restrictions on which rooms you can play in and/or how many tickets you can buy
  • There will be some kind of a wagering requirement

 

Deposit Bonuses

This is the promotion that you’ll find at every single online bingo site there is – free extra money to play with when you make a deposit (sometimes every single deposit, sometimes just your first deposit).  It’s not just the offers listed on the bingo site promo pages either – bingo sites LOVE to text or email their players offering extra deposit bonuses.  However, this free money inevitably has strings attached, much more so at some bingo sites than at others.

  • Is there a wagering requirement (beyond the single playthrough required to satisfy money laundering rules) and what happens if you take the money out before filling it?  Also what happens if you run out of money – will the wagering requirement be erased?
  • What can you spend it on? Just bingo, or bingo and side games?  Are there restrictions on which bingo rooms it can be spent in?
  • Is there a time limit on the bonus itself or on the wagering requirement attached to it?
  • Do winnings go into cash or bonus?  Does wagering come out of cash or bonus first?

 

Casino or Slots Bonuses

These are bonuses that are earmarked for playing slots and casino games only.  Some bingo sites now have a slots bonus as part of their welcome offer (and it may not be immediately obvious that part of the bonus in the headline offer is for slots and not bingo, so do check).  Things to watch out for:

  • The wagering requirements are VERY much higher than they are for bingo – 20 x bonus is usual and we have seen up to 99 x bonus.
  • There’s often a time limit for completing the wagering requirement and if you don’t, any winnings are removed as well as the bonus.
  • Some sites take wagering from your cash balance first before starting on the bonus, so you could be spending your bingo deposit or bingo wins on the slots wagering requirement, and then find yourself unable to enter jackpot games etc without making another deposit.  We suggest having a think before you embark on the slots wagering and not starting unless you really intend to complete it in the allotted time.

 

Slot of the Week

Commonly found at Virtue Fusion bingo sites, this is a slots bonus as described above, but the qualifying spend – typically £10 – has to be on a specific slot and the bonus – typically £5 – can only be used on that same slot.  Opt-in is usually by means of a bonus code and must be done BEFORE you start playing the slot or it won’t count.

Free Slots Spins

Many bingo sites now offer free slots spins as part of their welcome deal or other promotions and some even have bingo rooms where the prizes are free slots spins.  These offers invariably have strings attached.

  • The free spins have to be used on a specified slot or small selection of slots and almost always have a short expiry which could be as little as 24 hours.
  • They may also be released at the rate of 10 or 20 per day so that you are obliged to visit the site every day to claim them.
  • There may be a cap on what you can win from them.
  • Most important of all, how will winnings be treated?  The usual way is for them to be given as a bonus which is subject to a wagering requirement that can only be discharged by playing more slots.  If you are not a habitual slots player  and would prefer to spend your deposit on bingo tickets, a free spins offer may end up being more of a hindrance than a help to you.

 

Free Bingo Tickets

Free bingo ticket promotions almost always apply to a specific game at a specific time and you will probably also find that you need to be in the bingo room at the time to claim them.  The free bingo tickets given out by Live Bingo Network are an exception – they can be redeemed in most bingo rooms, but will only become available for use if you have neither cash nor bonus left in your account.

BOGOFs

BOGOF means Buy One, Get One Free, but this type of bingo promotion is more likely to be along the lines of buy 12, get 6 free, with the number of tickets purchased for each game needing to be quite high before the discounts kick in.   This is very handy if you habitually buy lots of tickets anyway but if you don’t, you may find yourself spending more than you budgeted for in order to get the extra tickets.  As the extra tickets are free they don’t contribute to the prize fund and what this means is that assuming everyone qualifies for the free tickets they are all in exactly the same position regarding both their chances of winning and the amount they will receive if they do win.  If there are some players who buy tickets but don’t buy enough to qualify for the freebies, they will be at a disadvantage to the players who do qualify compared to where they would be in a game with no freebies.

Bingo Codes

Bingo codes are not really a type of promotion in themselves, but rather a way in which online bingo sites can control and analyse access to promotions.  The most common uses are as follows:

  • Codes sent to existing players (or lapsed players) by email or text offering them a bonus or free spins which can be accessed by using the code on site. This usually but not always also requires making a deposit.
  • Codes published on site which players have to use if they want to opt into a promotion (usually one which involves a qualifying spend and/or wagering requirement) .
  • Codes published in magazines, on flyers, sent by direct mail or in a TV ad which new players can use to claim a welcome bonus (this helps the bingo site to know which types of advertising works best for them)

There have also been cases of deposit codes being given away as prizes in bingo games; of course these prizes are completely useless unless you actually plan to make a deposit.

Chat Games

These are word, number or trivia games played in the chat window of a bingo room and moderated by the chat host.  The usual prizes for these are loyalty points, but sometimes bingo bonus is given out and very occasionally as part of a special event there might be tangible prizes such as shopping vouchers.  As well as entry requirements for the chat games (typically the purchase of a least one ticket for the bingo game currently playing), the vast majority of sites have restrictions on chat game winnings – usually both a cap on the amount you are allowed to win per day or per week, and a requirement to have made a recent deposit  (typically in the last 7 days) in order to be eligible for a prize at all.

Raffles / Prize Draws

In this type of promotion entries to the prize draw are given out when you complete tasks on site.  These are usually, but not always, as simple as “spend £5 on bingo tickets” or “deposit £10”.  Possible complications include requiring the spend to be in a specific bingo room or on a specific slot, or giving out entries with bingo wins on specific numbers or patterns (see also pattern bingo promotions).  Some raffles allow an unlimited number of entries per player (which massively favours the high rollers) and others either have a maximum total number of entries you can have or – commonly at Gamesys bingo sites – restrict it to one entry per player per day .

Guaranteed Jackpot Games

In a guaranteed jackpot game, the prize is a fixed amount rather than being determined by the value of ticket sales.  This sounds great but the majority of sites are silent on what will happen if so many tickets are sold that the prize, if calculated in the normal way, would exceed the fixed amount on offer.

Sharepots

In this type of promotion you are guaranteed to get something just for participating.  A sharepot is a sum which is equally divided between everyone who meets a certain wagering requirement – e.g. plays £50 on a new release slot.  If you are thinking of going for one of these do check the terms and conditions to see whether the payout is cash or bonus, and if bonus what the restrictions are regarding what you can spend it on and what the wagering requirement is – as you may find you have to play it through multiple times on the same slot again (by which time you will be heartily sick of it, of course).

No Lose Games / Community Jackpots

In No Lose Games, part of the prize fund is allocated to be shared between non winning players, usually but not always on the basis of how many tickets they bought.  Consider three players who bought tickets for such a game.  Player A bought 100 tickets and one of them wins on 1L, so they get the 1L prize only.  Player B bought 100 tickets and Player C bought 50 tickets; none of those tickets won anything so they each get a share of the prize for non winners, but B gets twice as much as C due to having bought twice as many tickets.  Some things to note are that the shared prize is very often in the form of bingo bonus and not cash, and the payout is unlikely to be more than a small fraction of the ticket price.  The Dragonfish network has two regular monthly games of this type and the massively networked 888 £200K jackpot games also usually have this format.

Community jackpots include both no lose games of this type and games where the shared extra prize fund amount is not for all non winning players, but just for tickets with 1TG and 2TG.

Other No Lose Promotions

There are a couple of other types of No Lose Bingo promotions.  One is in connection with a single special game or session of bingo and involves giving players who hold no winning tickets a full refund of their ticket money as bingo bonus.  Several bingo sites offer this for new players, and Kitty Bingo and sister sites offer it once a week for everyone (but cards can only be bought for real cash).  By far the best version of this promotion was run by Coral Bingo involving 2 games an hour, 14 hours a day for the best part of 3 months.

The other type of no lose promotion gives losers entry to a further game of some kind – this could be a free bingo room the following day or a scratchcard (such as in the Last Chance Saloon games at Virtue Fusion bingo sites).

Leaderboard Challenges

In a leaderboard challenge, you score points by activities on site and the players with the most points at the end of the promo period win.  Common types of leaderboard challenge are slots tournaments and pattern bingo promotions.  There are also some where a variety of activities count but if these include simply depositing or spending and they can be done multiple times, the leaderboard is inevitably going to end up dominated by ultra high rollers.

Slots Tournaments

The vast majority of slots tournaments are leaderboard challenges that work like this: Get one leaderboard point for each £x played on the featured slots.  Top 5 (or top 10, or top 50) on the leaderboard win cash prizes (or in some cases casino bonus prizes).  What this boils down to is a simple contest to see who can spend the most money, and the prizes almost always pale into insignificance given the amount you would have to spend to get on the leaderboard.  Unless you are a genuine high roller, this type of tournament is unlikely to be worth participating in.

A few slots tournaments are run differently and these can be worthwhile for anyone to enter:

  • Ones where the win is determined by the biggest win, or biggest percentage win, in (for instance) any 20 consecutive spins instead of by total spend.  The big spenders still have an advantage because they play many more spins, but it is possible that it could be won by someone who just does 20 spins at the minimum stake to qualify.
  • Ones where there is a prize draw, bonus code, sharepot or other form of consolation prize for everyone who enters and meets the minimum requirement (as well as a leaderboard for the big spenders).
  • Head to head tournaments where there is a choice of 2 slots and whichever slot has the biggest total spend wins, with a sharepot or bonus code for everyone who meets the minimum spend requirement on the winning slot.

 

Bingo Tournaments / Chat Tournaments

These are all about collecting bingo wins, and  the ticket price of the game and the size of the prize are irrelevant.  With a chat tournament the time period tends to be short – even as little as an hour – and participants generally have to stay in the bingo room for the duration to score points for their team.  With longer lasting tournaments players are assigned to a team which they remain in for the duration, and there is usually some rule about the minimum number of games you need to play to remain on the team.

Almost without exception, the prizes for team bingo tournaments come in the form of loyalty points or bonuses.  The only sort of team bingo that has real prizes is the syndicate bingo that is occasionally available in selected rooms on Virtue Fusion sites (where there is a special jackpot that is shared between team members when the team leader wins a FH).

Prize Games

In prize bingo games, the prize is something tangible.  Currently the most common prize in this type of promotion is an iPad, closely followed by holidays and shopping vouchers, but some prizes are much smaller and can even be joke items such as the kangaroo onesie that was one of the prizes in a series of Australia themed games.  While it is easy to get carried away by the prospect of winning a really nice prize and buy lots of tickets, do remember that the prize is fixed regardless of ticket sales and (depending on the number of players) could actually end up being worth less than a cash prize calculated in the regular way for the same game would be.

The very best promotions of this type offer a prize that is something money can’t buy – Gala Bingo are especially good at this and prizes there have included VIP tours of the Coronation Street set and invitations to the Gala VIP Christmas party.

Scavenger Hunts

These are similar to leaderboard challenges in that you have to complete a variety of tasks such as making a deposit, playing £10 on a specified slot, winning bingo on a specific pattern etc – but in this case, you only need to complete each task once and there is no advantage to doing so multiple times.  Completing all the tasks either gives you a defined reward (e.g. at Bubble Bonus Bingo where completing the 5 tasks used to get you a £20 bonus at the end of the month) or gains you entry to and/or free tickets for a special bingo room (e.g at the Mandalay Media bingo sites).

Free Bingo – with qualifying conditions

This type of promotion involves a free bingo room with worthwhile cash prizes, and to gain entry you need to have deposited and/or spent a minimum amount during the promo period, either explicitly or by reaching a certain level in the VIP scheme.  Many bingo sites have these as a regular weekly or monthly thing and in some places – such as on the 15 Network and at Dragonfish network sites- this is the ONLY way you can get to play free bingo. They can also be part of one-off promotions.

Pattern Bingo Promotions

In these, you need to collect wins on a specific pattern or patterns in 75 ball bingo.  It could be a pattern that is thematically related to the prize – e.g. a shopping bag pattern for a prize of shopping vouchers, or you might need to collect several letter patterns to spell out a word – e.g. L-O-V-E for a Valentine’s Day promotion.  In some cases there be will guidance as to which room at which times run games on the patterns you need to collect (Bingo Hollywood for instance run promotions which always involve a pattern that runs in the Red Carpet Room at 45 minutes past the hour); if not, it’s a case of either hanging around in the 75 ball rooms waiting for games with the correct pattern to run, or using prebuy to enter a lot of 75 ball games and hoping many of them are on the pattern that’s needed.

As to what the collected wins are good for – they could get you entry to a second stage with a big prize game or free bingo session, they might translate into points for a leaderboard challenge, or they might just be entries to a raffle.

Cashback promotions

In a cashback promotion, you get a specified percentage of your losses back at the end of the promo period.  There are a number of reasons why this is not quite as good and as simple as it sounds.

  • It’s usually based on cumulative cash losses – i.e. the difference between the amount of money that you have at the beginning of the promo period and the amount of money that you have at the end of the promo period, with bonus not taken into account.  So if you win and come out even slightly ahead, or buy tickets with bonus and lose, you get nothing.
  • There’s usually a threshold of £1 for the cashback and if you qualify for less you get nothing at all.
  • In the majority of cases it is not actually cash back, but a bonus which carries a wagering requirement.
  • In many cases the promotion is restricted to a specific bingo room or specific slot which might not be one that you would otherwise be interested in playing.

 

Predictor promotions

In this type of promotion you must guess the winner of a sporting event or TV show, and if you guess right you get part of a sharepot (usually loyalty points) or sometimes entry to a prize draw.  Alternatively it could be set up as a vote and the sharepot goes to everyone who voted for the most popular alternative.   City Bingo‘s monthly Guess The City promotion is a classic example of a predictor promotion.   Some bingo sites (most notably Sun Bingo while it was still on Gamesys) have run more complicated versions of this where you had to predict the results of several events and received multipliers both for the total number of guesses you made and for the number you got right.

Happy Hour promotions

Happy Hour promotions require you to deposit and/or play on the site at what might otherwise be an unpopular time in order to qualify for some kind of benefit such as BOGOF bingo tickets,  a deposit bonus or free spins.

Advent Calendar style promotions

These are most frequently run at Christmas but we’ve also seen them at other times.  Basically there is an promotion of the day every day during the promo period and to participate you must visit the site, click to reveal the offer of the day and fulfil any associated deposit or spend requirement before the end of the day.  In some cases it is possible to find out ahead of time what the offers of the day are going to be but you still need to visit the site on the correct day to collect them.   The promotions are usually bingo bonus codes, free spins or extra loyalty points but we’ve also seen some very nice prize draws run like this.

Daily login promotions

These are even better than Advent Calendar promotions.  Players get a guaranteed prize just for logging in (typically loyalty points, bonuses, deposit bonus codes or free spins, but sometimes prize draw entries, free bingo tickets or tangible prizes) but they have to return the following day to find out what it is and claim it.  This is good for the players because they get free stuff and good for the bingo site because it gets the players into the habit of logging in every single day.

Huge linked games

These are games which run across entire networks and also often in multiple rooms on the same site so you can access them easily without going back to the lobby.  The plus side is that such games have a very large number of players enabling huge guaranteed jackpots to be offered.  The minus side is that such games have a very large number of players meaning that YOUR chance, as one of those players, of winning is extremely small – more like the lottery than bingo really.  Examples of this sort of game are the Virtue Fusion BingoLinx games that run three times a day and the 888/Dragonfish 90 ball room that connects several different 888 networks together in the evenings.

Progressive jackpots and room jackpots

In a progressive jackpot such as the Big Bang jackpot at Bingocams, a small amount of money from the ticket sales of each game is set aside to fund the jackpot and keep it growing and when someone wins bingo anywhere on site in sufficiently few calls (for the Big Bang this is 32 calls for 90 ball or 42 calls for 75 ball coverall) , they scoop the lot.  The jackpot is then reset to zero (or a seed amount – for the Big Bang the seed amount is £5000).  Room jackpots are smaller jackpots that are confined to one room only with the number of calls (usually) set higher than for a site wide jackpot and can be a fixed amount rather than progressive.  There are also more complicated versions of progressive jackpots such as the Golden Cobbles jackpot in Gala Bingo’s Coronation Street bingo room; a bingo card is marked off at the end of each game if the number of the ball on which bingo was called appears on it, and the jackpot is won when this card reaches 1L, 2L and FH.

Sliding jackpots

In a sliding jackpot game, there is a large headline cash prize.  However, this prize will ONLY be won if someone wins full house in 90 ball or coverall in 75 ball within a certain number of calls.  After that it starts to slide and gets smaller with every extra ball (if bingo is not called) until it reaches the guaranteed amount.  The trouble with this is that sometimes, the number of calls at which the jackpot starts to slide is ridiculously low (e.g. 28 calls in 75 ball coverall) but you may have to read the small print to find this out – or even to find out what the guaranteed prize amount is.  If you are a fan of sliding jackpots despite that, Gossip Bingo and sister sites run several of them regularly and Foxy Bingo does so from time to time.

Escalator jackpots

Escalator jackpots are basically the opposite of sliding jackpots.  They can take place over a series of games spread over several days or in one room over several hours or sometimes a whole weekend.  The jackpot amount remains constant but at the end of each session or at specified times such as once an hour, the ball count for winning the jackpot is incremented by 1 if it hasn’t yet been won.  An escalator jackpot that ran over a weekend might start at a stupidly low number of calls but the chances of it dropping would keep increasing as the ball count went up – and the ball count would continue to go up and up until someone did win.

Multi level games

This type of promotion involves a special bingo game with something along the lines of a really nice holiday as the prize.  Tickets for this prize game are given as prizes in other bingo games (qualifiers) as well as or instead of being on sale in the normal way. There are two ways in which this is commonly done:

  • The bet365 way – Run the qualifiers as regular bingo games with regular cash prizes and give all line and FH winners one ticket to the big game as well as the regular prizes.  It is not uncommon for a promotion of this type to run for many weeks or even months to give players plenty of time to collect tickets.
  • The Mandalay Media way  – Give away quite a lot of tickets in the qualifiers, but no regular prizes – so the FH winner might win the max tickets for the big game, with everyone down to 2TG getting some (and sometimes even 1 ticket for all non winners).  In this version of the promotion there would only be a few qualifiers, perhaps running at the same time every evening for a week or two.

Both versions of this promotion score highly for entertainment value because you have the enjoyment of playing all the qualifying games as well as the big game itself.

Exclusive Flash games

Some bingo sites such as Bubble Bonus Bingo, and all those sites where you spin the wheel for an extra bonus, have a Flash game as part of their welcome offer.  Others have Flash games that can be played at any time as long as you meet the deposit or spend requirements ; an example of this is the Charm Chaser game at Lucky Charm Bingo . Lastly there is the type of Flash game that is on site for a limited amount of time and can be played once a day to win free stuff;  Foxy Bingo is well known for running these several times a year.

Photo/caption etc contests

These can be run via email or on social media (where you would be required to post on their Facebook page or using a specific hashtag) and have modest cash, bingo bonus or loyalty points prizes.  In most cases there is no entry requirement other than simply being a registered player at the site, but do check just in case there is a need to have made a recent deposit.

Roomie of the week/month

In this type of promotion, chat hosts will nominate and vote on players that they feel have made a worthwhile contribution to the life of the site (both in the chat rooms and on social media) and this need not necessarily be related to spending or deposits (although someone who is a heavy depositor or spender is also very likely to be around on site often and this is bound to help with getting nominations and votes).  The prize is usually loyalty points (in large quantities).

Social media promotions

Most bingo sites will give you an incentive (in the form of loyalty points or a small bonus) for liking them on Facebook and/or following them on Twitter and once you do so, you may find that gives you access to further giveaways via posts that pop up on your feed.

Networked vs exclusive promotions

An exclusive promotion is available to the players at one bingo site only.  A networked promotion runs at multiple sites on a bingo or slots network (and this enables larger prizes to be offered and also enables bingo sites to offer lots of promotions because the network does all the work on some of them).  If the promotion is anything that involves competing with other players (such as a special bingo game, leaderboard or prize draw), clearly whether it is networked or not makes a big difference as with no networking, the number of other players who are in direct competition is going to be far fewer.  If the promotion is about bonuses it does not matter.  And in the case of a sliding jackpot game it is arguably better if it is networked because the more players there are, the sooner bingo is likely to be called and therefore the more likely it is that someone or other will win more than the guaranteed amount.

The best bingo sites run a combination of network and exclusive promotions and it would be nice if they also all made it absolutely clear which is which but most bingo sites, including some absolutely massive names in the industry, do not make any clear distinction between networked and exclusive promotions and often the only way to find out which is which is to visit other sites on the same network to see if they are running the same promotions.