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13 Biggest Online Bingo Flops


Sue Dawson

Operators are constantly striving to bring players new and exciting bingo products and promotions.  But sometimes their innovations fall embarrassingly short of the mark…here’s some of the biggest flops seen in the online bingo world in the time I’ve been writing about bingo!

  1. Bingo Godz
  2. Bede Gaming Bingo Product
  3. Grace Media Bingo Sites
  4. All Charity Bingo Sites
  5. All Real Money Bingo On Facebook
  6. Jumpman Mobile Bingo (original version)
  7. Bingo With Kerry
  8. Car Boot Bingo & Flog It Bingo
  9. Slingo Boom
  10. Hot House Bingo
  11. Bingo Blast
  12. Management of Gala Bingo Migration
  13. Playtech Million Pound Bingo Game 

Bingo Godz

Bingo Godz was going to be the next big thing in online bingo when it launched in September 2013 on the brand new Bede Gaming bingo software, but despite frequent tweaks it never lived up to the hype.

The USP at launch was the progression through 6 levels awarding entry to bingo rooms with bigger and bigger prizes, to be achieved by collecting Bingo Godz along the way. An over ambitious release date which couldn’t be changed once all the TV advertising had been booked meant that the site opened with NO progression at all and it took them a whole year to get as far as a partial implementation of the level 3 rooms. Levels 4-6 never materialised and the level progression part of the site ended up being the ultimate damp squib.

Even if Bingo Godz had been able to get the level progression to work, if you think about it the entire concept was flawed. The higher level bingo rooms were the ones with more expensive tickets and bigger prizes, so why would you want to stop new players from going in there? Surely, if you’re an operator, you want to make it as easy as possible for players to buy tickets to your big money games to ensure you can fund the prizes from ticket sales? And if you’re a player and there’s a big money game playing, you’ll be mightily annoyed if you aren’t allowed to buy any tickets!

Map showing Bingo Godz in Farnborough
Not that Bingo Godz!

Another massive mistake was to launch the Bede Gaming bingo software without any 75 ball bingo whatsoever (it arrived almost a year later).

In early 2015 the site changed hands and at some point the whole level progression thing was quietly dropped. For a while the Godz were retained, showing up in the bingo rooms to add extra features to the play, but this soon stopped as well and all that remained of the original concept was the names of the bingo rooms which were taken from Greek mythology.

Bingo Godz finally closed at the end of October 2018.  Interestingly the name and logo survive but not online – they are being used by a bingo hall in Farnborough of all places.

Which brings us to……

Bede Gaming bingo product

Bingo Godz itself may have been a loss making embarrassment but the Bede Gaming software was actually rather good once the 75 ball games were added and deserved to be more popular than it was. Unfortunately it never really caught on with players and after the network was bought by Leo Vegas in 2018 it was retired to be replaced with Pragmatic Play bingo rooms in 2020.

And speaking of Pragmatic Play…

Grace Media Bingo Sites

Back when Grace Media was Nektan, many Nektan casinos added Pragmatic Play bingo rooms. These early adopters were instrumental in helping to get Pragmatic Play’s liquidity kickstarted. But now, only BOGOF Bingo remains and no other Grace Media sites have bingo at all, so what went wrong?

Well, it appears that some bright spark at Grace Media didn’t like the idea of online casinos with bingo rooms and when the lobby was redesigned, brand owners had to choose whether they were going to market their site as a bingo site (with bingo and slots) or as a casino (with slots and casino games). Many of the brand owners picked casino and therefore had to drop the bingo product. Some decided to go with bingo and one of these was Blush Bingo, a new site that opened in early 2022. But the problem was that in the meantime, Grace Media had unilaterally taken the decision to discontinue the chat in their bingo rooms on the grounds it was expensive and not used much.

Blush Bingo lobby
No chat? No thank you!

Although Blush Bingo was marketed as a bingo site and the bingo was given lots of prominence, the lack of chat in the bingo rooms was clearly a deal breaker for many an ardent bingo player and just as happened with Bubbly Bingo, another launch on the same platform, it was very quickly obvious that the entire concept was flawed. While there are many players who like both slots and bingo and aren’t bothered about chat, there are plenty of other casinos on different platforms with the same Pragmatic Play bingo product, a much better range of slot games and – dare we say it – better player promotions with better terms and conditions. The launch marketing campaign was swiftly pulled and in autumn 2022 it was announced that Blush would be closing, only a few months after opening.

The moral? Players aren’t stupid – half arsed bingo sites are a massive time and money sink for operators. Do it properly or don’t do it at all!

And speaking of not doing it at all…

All charity bingo sites

There have been several attempts over the last 15 years to run bingo sites in aid of charities, although in many cases it hasn’t been at all clear how much money actually ended up being donated to the charity in question.

Bingo Giving
Bingo Giving no longer gives money to charity but someone forgot to remove the bit about amazing causes!

Some are still around today but the only one that still donates any money to charity, Pink Ribbon Bingo, has changed owners and it’s not clear whether any further donaions will be made.  Even before that bombshell, the funds it gave to charity had dwindled from continuous donations to just being from occasional fundraiser games.

The truth is that unfortunately these days bingo sites are operating on too tight a margin to have anything left over to donate to charity. It’s a gradual squeeze which started in 2014 when all bingo sites had to acquire a UK licence (previously it could be from Gibraltar, Malta, the Isle of Man and several other places). The regulatory requirements have got tighter resulting in increased overheads and when tax changes were brought in too (in 2017) that was essentially the final straw for charity bingo sites. Big operators occasionally run special charity games, but that’s it..

Something which never properly got off the ground in the first place…

All real money bingo on Facebook

In the golden age of Facebook gaming in the early 2010s, many industry pros were convinced that Facebook real money gaming was a huge potential growth area. They’d seen the massive popularity of freemium games like Bingo Blitz and Candy Crush and wanted a piece of that. But as anybody who has actually played any of these games will tell you, the prospect of winning real money doesn’t marry well with the player experience.

  • In a just for fun bingo app like Bingo Blitz you can buy power ups to help you win and ask your friends to help, and you usually also daub the numbers yourself. This is COMPLETELY different from real money online bingo where you just sit and watch the game unfold.
  • In games like Candy Crush the thrill comes from passing the level by the use of skill and/or power-ups. Again, a slot game with Candy Crush lookalike symbols is a COMPLETELY different proposition as there is and can be no skill involved.

bingo appyIn the event, both Gamesys (Bingo & Slots Friendzy) and 888 (Bingo Appy) attempted real money bingo on Facebook.  Needless to say both were dismal failures.

You know what those industry pros should have been thinking about as a growth area instead? Mobile bingo, which at that time most industry people thought would never be a thing because of screen size. Hindsight is a fine thing!

And speaking of mobile bingo…

Jumpman mobile bingo (original version)

It’s easy to play mobile bingo at Jumpman sites now that they have Pragmatic Play bingo rooms. But back in the mid 2010s when mobile bingo first became a thing, Jumpman had a stab at it with their proprietary bingo product and the UX was an utter abomination.

Why?  Because on a mobile device all that was available was the ticket purchase screen!  Having bought tickets, you couldn’t actually enter the bingo room either to chat or to see any of the games actually play.

Moving on to some flop theming…

Bingo With Kerry

Kerry Katona of Atomic Kitten fame was certainly one of the more controversial celebrities of the last decade and it raised several eyebrows when she was hired by 8Ball Games to front one of their bingo sites.

Bingo With Kerry

Bingo With Kerry opened in August 2016 with the Virtue Fusion / Playtech bingo product (which ought to have been a winner). The site included Ms Katona’s Twitter feed and occasionally ran prize draws giving players the opportunity to meet her on a night out. Despite winning a Which Bingo award (which she showed up in person to collect), it closed after just a couple of years of operation.

While the closure may have been the result of negative publicity, it’s more likely down to the Playtech “Portal” platform being both expensive to operate and not able to compete with larger Playtech bingo sites like Sun Bingo.

..and..

Car Boot Bingo & Flog It Bingo

It’s never a good look when you promise your players something and don’t even attempt to deliver it, but that’s what both these bingo sites did.

Both had the same grandiose idea – add a forum and marketplace where players could buy and sell their stuff to help create a community.  Car Boot Bingo was a Cozy bingo site and Flog It Bingo was a Jumpman bingo site, and anyone who is at all familiar with the evolution of those particular bingo platforms over the years will not be surprised that this didn’t happen in either case.

And then there’s bingo games that just didn’t hit the mark… 

Slingo Boom

Slingo Boom was an ill fated attempt by Gaming Realms to introduce a multi player version of their otherwise very popular Slingo game.

If you were one of the few players who actually tried Slingo Boom, you’ll have swiftly realised that it was basically 75 ball bingo on steroids. So why on earth didn’t they include “bingo” in the name of the game or advertise it to bingo players?

Entain’s Slingo Bingo game is much closer to the mark as it’s very clearly positioned as a Slingo themed bingo game.

..or were too complex….

Hot House Bingo

Hot House Bingo was exclusive to Gala Bingo back when it was on Virtue Fusion.  Launched in September 2018, it was a 90 ball bingo game with a radical difference. Each player had a strip of 3 tickets including 45 of the 90 numbers. The game had 5 prize pools (2 of which were usually set to zero) for completing bingo within certain number ranges, which would be split between all tickets completing bingo in that range. One of the 5 ranges included the last number called meaning that each player had a 1 in 2 chance in every game of collecting part of that prize pool.

Gala Hot House Bingo
You have a 1 in 2 chance of winning a share of £3.50 – but so do the other 123 players!

As a new form of 90 ball bingo in which all players would win something at least half of the time, and which was designed to hold everyone’s attention right till the end, it surely ought to have been a winner. But it wasn’t – it was retired only a few months later.

Perhaps the whole thing with the 5 prize pools was too complex? Or maybe, just maybe, players didn’t like Hot House Bingo because of it being really obvious just how terrible its RTP was in some games. This is an issue with single ticket games in general as players can see exactly how many tickets are in play and therefore have an idea of how the ticket money relates to the prize pool, but it was particularly noticeable in Hot House. Blergh.

plus one that’s still around….

Bingo Blast

Sorry Pragmatic Play, your bingo product is otherwise fab but your speed bingo game kind of misses the point, which explains why there are rarely more than a handful of players in the Bingo Blast room.

This 90 ball bingo variant is designed to “blast” through the long boring bit before 1L and 2L are called, but it turns out that lots of players like to use that time to chat, play minigames, go make a cup of tea or just enjoy the slow build up. The alternative approach of bingo games like Bingo Boom and The Money Drop was more popular with players as they added entertainment (in the form of a feature game) to the slow start rather than skipping past it entirely. Unfortunately, in 2024 neither of these games are still around.

At least Bingo Blast does play the end of the game at normal speed, unlike Dragonfish’s terrible and thankfully defunct bingo game Candylicious which ran so fast you could easily get distracted for a moment and miss the whole thing.

and a couple of operator oopsies, one which upset a lot of players….

Management of Gala Bingo Migration

There were a lot of unhappy players in the chat at Gala Bingo following the move from Virtue Fusion to Entain’s own bingo platform in July 2021. They felt that it wasn’t explained properly either beforehand or at the time, and were annoyed about bonuses not carrying over and the loss of some regular promotions such as the Roy’s Rolls scratchcard.

To give them credit, Gala arranged for players to keep their chat name and many Gala exclusive bingo games were recreated on Entain (but with much sparser theming).  But it was always going to be difficult (especially for the poor chat hosts in the frontline) as some people just don’t like change.

The migration process itself may have gone down like a lead balloon as far as players were concerned, and the numbers of players in Gala’s exclusive bingo rooms did drop noticeably after the move, but the Entain bingo software itself has turned out to be a big hit – a couple of years later, Entain bingo is going from strength to strength.

and one which didn’t…

Playtech £1 Million Bingo Game

This special bingo game played on 30th December 2016 with a prize pool of an astonishing £1 million, including a full house prize of £500,000 and a £100,000 community share for all non winning tickets. You’d think this would be one of the most popular online bingo games ever and players would be falling over each other to buy tickets – but it didn’t work out like that!

You don’t need to be a maths genius to work out that with a £1 million guaranteed prize pool and tickets priced at £2 each, Playtech needed to sell 500,000 tickets to cover the cost of the prizes.

In fact, they sold far fewer, not even as many as 100,000.  I know this because the £100,000 community share came to more than £1 per ticket (£1.13 to be precise, meaning there were around 88,500 non winning tickets). Great for players, terrible for Playtech – and even worse than it looks, as not all of the tickets were bought with cash.

How could they have got it so wrong?

  • For a start, it wasn’t publicised enough.  You’d think the promotions pages at Virtue Fusion sites would be screaming about such a huge prize pool from the start of December and maybe even earlier, but at some sites it wasn’t even mentioned at all until a few days before (when many players would be too busy with Christmas to bother reading the promotions page).
  • Even if you did hear about the game it wasn’t at all obvious where to buy tickets (you had to know which room the game was playing in, look for it on the schedule and use prebuy a maximum of 7 days before).
  • When you eventually found the ticket purchase screen you discovered that the maximum number of tickets per player was set at just 18 (whereas in most Playtech bingo games it’s much higher).
  • And finally, lots of tickets to the game were given away free in other promotions (as many as 10,000 at Gala Bingo alone).  Why would you buy tickets if you could get them free?

How very different it could have been if this game had been run in a dedicated bingo room and they’d publicised it properly and let people buy more tickets!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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