Updated: 23rd Sep 2021
Part of the fun of playing at a UK bingo site is taking part in all the promotions that they run for players. Even if you don’t win a prize or collect a bonus, there’s lots of entertainment value to be had simply by participating.
A bingo promotion is a special event, run regularly or as a one off, that gives players an extra of some kind – extra funds to play with, extra prizes, extra entertainment – while playing bingo, as a result of playing bingo, or for use while playing bingo.
Many of the promotions you will find at UK bingo sites are not strictly speaking bingo promotions at all. A prize draw that you enter by playing £10 on the slot of the week, for example, hasn’t really got anything to do with playing bingo unless the prizes include bingo bonus or something else bingo related. If slots aren’t your thing, it can be super annoying if the bingo site you play at keeps running nothing but slots promotions.
An exclusive promotion is available to the players at one bingo site only, or at a small number of sites all run by the same operator.
A network promotion runs at multiple sites across a bingo or casino network.
In some cases this just doesn’t matter. If the offer is, say, play £10 on the slot of the week to collect 20 free spins, it makes no difference whatsoever how many other players claim the same offer.
What if it’s a prize draw though? It all comes down to the number of other players you’re competing against and clearly you’re going to have a much better chance of winning if the promotion is running at a single site with hundreds of players rather than across a network with tens of thousands of players. That is true of ANY type of promotion which involves some type of competition against other players; tournaments and leaderboards are other types of promotion where networking matters.
Is networking always bad? No! Some network promotions have prizes whose size and number is only possible BECAUSE of the large volume of players across the network. For example, Virtue Fusion run a million pound slots prize draw promotion a couple of times a year with tens of thousands of cash prizes of up to £5000 – there’s no way you’d able to play for prizes that big at a single site.
Unfortunately a lot of bingo sites (including some absolutely massive names in the industry) do not make any clear distinction, even in 2021, between network and exclusive promotions. It’s easy enough to find out by visiting other sites on the same network to see if they have the promotion too – but we don’t think it should be necessary for players to have to do that.
To participate in a promotion, the first thing you will have to do is meet any qualification requirements. This might be as simple as just logging in, but usually involves spending some money.
A deposit based promotion needs little explanation. Deposit the required amount during the promo period, collect the bonus, free spins, free tickets, free bingo room access, bonus game, prize draw entry or whatever. E.g deposit £5 today and gain access to a daily game for the next 7 days.
You’ll often need to use a special code when you deposit to opt in to one of these promotions. The use of codes enables the bingo site to run several different deposit based promotions at the same time and offer each promotion to some players but not others. Codes for new players can be published in magazines, on flyers, sent by direct mail, in a TV ad or on websites like ours and this helps the bingo site to know which types of advertising work best for them. Codes for existing players can be sent by email or text, published on the bingo site’s promotions page and/or given out by chat hosts in the bingo rooms.
In a stake based promotion – also known as “stake and get” – you need to spend a specified amount (almost always in cash, not bonus) on a specified product in a specified time to collect the reward. E.g spend £5 on bingo in the featured bingo room to collect a share of 10,000 free bingo tickets the next day, spend £10 on bingo to get a prize draw entry, or spend £10+ on bingo to receive 10% cashback on losses. Stake based promotions sometimes require an opt in and when they do, you need to opt in BEFORE you start to play.
Deposit and spend is a combination of deposit based and stake based. It’s a common requirement in welcome offers, for example “deposit and spend £10, get £30 bingo bonus” but can also feature in promotions for existing players.
Game enhancement promotions affect bingo games that are run during the promo period, giving players the chance to win more or bigger prizes, and you qualify simply by buying tickets to the game. E.g free scratchcard for non winning players with 6 or more tickets, chat game for players with tickets in play
You don’t need to deposit or spend anything to claim a freebie – you just need to have an account at the site in question. However, this normally entails having made at least one deposit at some point. Free daily games at Gamesys sites are a prime example of this.
Ultimately, what you can win from bingo promotions is either cold, hard cash or tangible prizes – but not necessarily directly, as much of the entertainment value comes from how you get there. For example, let’s take a bingo game with a prize of a £5000 holiday voucher; the amount of entertainment value there is for players varies depending on how you get tickets for that bingo game. How much more fun is it if you can’t just buy them, but have to win them in other bingo games or in a bonus game? Or even collect them based on stakes on other games?
Shopping or holiday vouchers, electronics, and cars are some of the more desirable prizes you can win in bingo promotions, but best of all are money-can’t-buy items such as celebrity makeovers (Mecca Bingo) or VIP tours of the Coronation Street set (Gala Bingo). Indeed, it was Gala Bingo that took it to the max with perhaps the most exclusive (and the most bizarre) prize ever – the winner’s pet got to appear as an extra in an episode of Emmerdale.
We all know what a bonus is and they are one of the most frequently awarded extras in bingo promotions, in all flavours from a straightforward deposit bonus to a prize in a tournament or prize draw. Most bonuses come with wagering requirements and time limits which will be specified in the terms and conditions of the promotion – it’s a good idea to check before you participate to ensure that you will be able to convert the bonus even if you also have cash in your account (this can be a problem if the play order is cash first as you won’t be able to play with the bonus without first losing the cash).
Slot spins aren’t just one of the most frequently awarded extras, they are probably THE most frequently awarded extra (certainly when you include slot promotions running at bingo sites). At Gamesys, Relax Gaming, Entain and most Virtue Fusion bingo sites, free spins really are free spins and anything you win will be added to your cash balance, but at Dragonfish and most Pragmatic Play bingo sites they should be more properly called bonus spins as any winnings will come as a slot bonus with a wagering requirement which will be queued behind any other bonuses you may have. We know which type we prefer!
Free bingo tickets – or rather, vouchers which can be redeemed against bingo tickets – are another common benefit but be aware that they work VERY differently between different types of bingo site. The Virtue Fusion way, where free tickets can be redeemed in a selection of regular bingo rooms against tickets costing up to 10p, is vastly superior to the Dragonfish way where the tickets are only valid for special bingo rooms in which large numbers of players compete for small prizes. The only snag with free bingo tickets is that they can have a very short expiry time (24 hours is not unusual) so need to be used without delay.
Entry to a free bingo session is another common reward. It’s different to free bingo tickets as in order to play in the free bingo games, you have to be in the bingo room shortly before each game starts. If you can’t get online then, you’ll miss out completely.
We’ve talked about the ways to qualify for bingo promotions and the sorts of prizes and rewards you can end up with and now it’s time for the fun part, the bit in between. How exactly are the rewards worked out and distributed?
A sharepot is a fixed amount of cash, bonus, spins or free bingo tickets to be split between everyone who qualifies for the promotion. Some sharepots are split evenly and others are split proportionally depending on level of participation.
In this type of stake based promotion, you receive a percentage of your net losses (or occasionally your total stakes) during the promo period, as cash or a bonus. This can even go as far as a full refund of your ticket costs if you don’t win anything during the promo period.
This is one of those types of promotions that is rarely quite as good as it sounds. Net losses means the cash difference between what’s in your account when you start to play and what’s in your account when you finish playing (allowing for any deposits or withdrawals). Bonus play doesn’t count. Even a 10% lossback may therefore be quite a small amount, and in many cases there’s a minimum threshold below which the lossback won’t be paid as well as a ceiling.
Winboost is the opposite of lossback – you get an extra percentage on top of your wins during the promo period. This is also not as good as it sounds as it normally means net wins, not total of prizes won. For example, if you spend £10 on bingo tickets and win £20 on one of the games but nothing on any of the others, your winboost would apply to your £10 net winnings not the whole £20.
Sometimes winboost and lossback both feature in the same promotion and you get whichever one you qualify for.
In a prize draw, players collect entries by staking the required amount on a specified game or game type or (occasionally) by making a deposit. Prize draw entries can also be given as rewards in other promotions such as bonus games. At most bingo sites players are able to collect unlimited entries to prize draw promotions; if you are a moderate spender you may prefer the prize draw promotions at Gamesys sites where there’s usually a limit of one entry per player.
Winners are randomly selected and to ensure absolute fairness this is often done by an external organisation such as PromoVeritas.
As for what you can win, as well as tangible prizes and cash there’s bonuses, spins and all manner of other extras up for grabs.
You aren’t guaranteed to win anything in a free daily game, but then again they are freebies; typically any account that has ever made a deposit is allowed to play once a day. They come in various flavours:
Bonus games have bigger and better prizes and/or a bigger chance of winning than free daily games. They can be awarded after you meet a deposit or spend requirement, or as prizes for something else, as at Gamesys sites where they give out Box Bonanza games in their prize draw promotions (in a Box Bonanza game, you open one of three gift boxes, almost always revealing a cash prize).
Bonus games (and free daily games) can also award entries to a prize draw, tickets to a special prize bingo game or something else that is basically access to another promotion rather than a prize in itself.
Chat games are one of the most fun promotions you can take part in. The most basic form is a word or number game or trivia quiz run in the chat window by the chat host, with loyalty points or small amounts of bonus to be won. It’s not necessarily the first correct answer that wins and in fact it can be more fun when the host specifies something else, like the third correct answer.
There are now some far fancier and more interactive types of chat game available. Mecca Bingo and other Virtue Fusion bingo sites which run live streams have had players phone in to play chat games on air, and at Gamesys sites you can play minigames such as Blox and video quiz games directly served to the chat window.
Depending on the site, you may find there are restrictions on chat game participation. You may only be able to play if you have tickets in play in the current game, you may need to have made a recent deposit and/or there may be a limit on the number of chat game prizes you can win per day.
Not to be confused with “everyone’s a winner” which is often used to refer to bonus games where some kind of win is guaranteed, Everyone Wins means a bingo game where there is a community share – an extra prize pool to be split equally between all non winning tickets (sometimes subject to a minimum purchase of 6 tickets). This means that all participants in the game go away with something; in most cases it will be considerably less than the ticket price, though.
Big link bingo games run across entire networks (or even multiple networks) and also often in multiple rooms on the same site so you can access them easily without going back to the lobby e.g. the Superlinks games at Gamesys sites. They typically have an EXTREMELY large number of players and this is both a plus and a minus point – a plus point because of the size of the prizes and a minus point because of the reduced chance of actually winning one. It’s more like the lottery than bingo really.
Bingo games with the 1TG/2TG feature have extra prizes. 1TG means One To Go, and the 1TG prize is evenly split between all the bingo tickets that are short of just one number when full house is won. The 2TG prize works in the same way for bingo tickets that have two numbers left to be daubed.
A Roll On Bingo game doesn’t end when someone calls full house. Numbers continue to be called until another player or player completes full house; they win the Roll On 1 prize and the same continues to happen until all the Roll On prizes have been won.
Roll On prizes are typically much smaller than normal full house prizes.
A second chance promotion gives players who bought tickets to the promotional game or games but didn’t win anything, a further opportunity to win something via a bonus game or by gaining access to a free bingo room at a later date.
Don’t be fooled by BOGOFs! They sound great but when everyone who buys tickets to a bingo game is given 50% extra free tickets, it doesn’t change the game in any way; you’ve still got exactly the same chance of winning as you had before and the prize money stays the same as free tickets don’t contribute.
These are bingo games where the prize money is not determined in the usual way by ticket sales, so big prizes can be advertised ahead of time.
In a fixed jackpot game the prize money is set in stone regardless of how many tickets end up being sold.
In a guaranteed jackpot game the prize money is bound to be at least the headline amount, but could end up being more if a large number of tickets are sold as it will then revert to being determined in the usual way.
Prize bingo games are essentially fixed jackpots so the more tickets that are sold for the game, the worse the RTP gets. An Apple watch is very desirable, but here you’ve got more than 2000 players competing for it and depending on which model it is (it doesn’t say) and how many of those 10p tickets were actually sold rather than given out as freebies, the RTP could be really quite low.
If you buy tickets for a prize bingo game early on, you can’t tell how popular it is going to be, so if value for money is important to you, you may want to wait until shortly before the game plays and decide whether or not to buy tickets then.
A sliding jackpot game is basically a fixed jackpot game with added smoke and mirrors. The full house prize, which is nothing to do with ticket sales, is determined by the number of calls it takes for someone – anyone – to win. The headline amount will ONLY be won if full house is reached in a specifed number of calls and if it isn’t, the jackpot starts to “slide”, getting lower and lower with each call till it reaches a minimum guaranteed amount. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? It is, kind of – but the number of calls you need to bingo in to win the headline amount is usually something which sounds reasonable but is actually LUDICROUSLY unlikely. Think you’ve got a chance of winning anything larger than £1000 in this game? You’re more than a thousand times more likely to win the Euromillions! (1 in 142 million for the Euromillions vs 1 in 196 billion for bingo in 34 calls or fewer). As for the chance of winning the £10 million, it’s 1 in 25.6 quintillion which is incomprehensively tiny.
Depending on what the minimum guaranteed prize is, the RTP for sliding jackpot games can end up being exceptionally low and perhaps this explains why this particular type of promotion is much less common than it used to be.
A escalator jackpot is kind of like a sliding jackpot game in reverse. Some bingo rooms have progressive jackpots which are set to drop when someone wins a bingo game – any bingo game – in a specified number of calls or fewer. The smaller the number of calls, the bigger the jackpot is seeded at and the bigger it tends to grow due to the extreme unlikelihood of anyone winning that quickly.
In an escalator jackpot, the room progressive jackpot is turned into a must-drop jackpot and to ensure that it does drop, the number of calls within which bingo has to be called goes up at intervals over the promo period. In the real life example of the recurrent Virtue Fusion escalator jackpot promotion, the ball count starts to go up at 6pm and goes up by 2 on the hour, every hour; if the jackpot hasn’t been won by 11.45pm the ball count goes all the way to the maximum of 75 or 90 (depending on whether it’s a 75 ball or 90 ball room) to ensure that it drops in the next game. Virtue Fusion make it more exciting by splitting the jackpot 50/50 between the full house winner and all remaining tickets.
In terms of entertainment value, escalator jackpots are great as there’s rising excitement in every game, going up and up until the jackpot finally drops.
As you’d expect, Advent Calendar promotions tend to appear in the run-up to Christmas but sometimes bingo sites run something similar 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 open the window and reveal the offer of the day, and fulfil any associated deposit or spend requirement before the end of the day to collect the reward. 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 claim them. The promotions themselves can be anything – deposit offers, free spins loyalty points and prize draw entries are all common.
At Tombola they have been running a different type of Advent Calendar promotion every December for the last few years that’s more like a free daily game. Each window opens to reveal a symbol and the idea is to collect sets of three to win prizes; play every day and you’re guaranteed to win something.
Bingo is such a high variance game that it’s quite difficult to run a genuine bingo tournament with points scored for line and full house wins as so few players would score any points at all. In the past, some Dragonfish sites attempted to run them by assigning players to teams and awarding prizes (usually loyalty points, so pretty underwhelming) to everyone on the team but this involved quite a lot of admin work, often done by chat hosts (and there are far fewer of those at Dragonfish sites these days).
Unibet still run genuine bingo tournaments from time to time in their 75 ball 5 line rooms where it works slightly better due to there being more prizes on offer per game.
Dragonfish also advertise bingo tournaments, but in fact they are really multi-level games rather than tournaments.
In a multi-level bingo game, you play in the first level games to win tickets to the second level games and that may or may not be the only way to get them; sometimes they are also on sale for cash but when they are, they tend to be quite expensive. Very often the free tickets are the ONLY thing you can win in the first level games but sometimes there are cash prizes too.
The trouble with multi level games is that it is very difficult to get a handle on what the RTP might be and also the variance is very high as there are so few prizes in the second level games; they can be fun to play though.
These are slot promotions rather than bingo promotions, but are often found at bingo sites and can take several different forms. The ones where you score points based on amount wagered are just a competition to see who can spend the most money which is boring as well as encouraging players to spend too much. This type of tournament may still be worth entering if there is a consolation prize, as there sometimes is, for everyone who scores at least one point.
Better formats include
Predictor promotions are rarely seen these days. The way it normally works is that you 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 entry to a prize draw. There’s no deposit or play requirement (apart from having a funded account at the site in question) as otherwise it would be technically a bet.
City Bingo‘s monthly Guess The City promotion is a classic example of a predictor promotion. There’s a shortlist of cities to choose from and you pick the one you think will be the following month’s theme; a prize pool of Diamonds from the loyalty scheme are shared between all the players who get it right.
This is another type of slot promotion that is often found at UK bingo sites. It’s actually a type of predictor promotion and can also be called Battle of the Slots. Opt in by choosing one of the two featured slot games and make your qualifying spend on that game; at the end of the promo period, a sharepot is split between everyone who picked the most popular game (i.e. the one with the biggest total spend). Occasionally the same thing has been done with bingo rooms instead of slot games.
Happy hour promotions reward players for depositing and/or playing at a specified (and otherwise unpopular) time of day and/or on a particular day of the week
Bingo sites sometimes run promotions to tie in with special events. During Euro 2020 Mecca Bingo ran a free bingo room with £100 added to the prize pool each time England scored, and numerous bingo sites have run free sweepstakes on the Grand National.
It can go even further when the operator actually sponsors the special event. For example, Tombola have sponsored I’m A Celebrity several times and in 2020 alone, they ran £750,000 of I’m A Celebrity themed promotions.
It’s well worth following your favourite bingo sites on social media. As operators are not allowed to post any actual gambling related content on Instagram due to imperfect age-gating, most of the social media promotions are merch or voucher giveaways where you comment with your username and players are selected at random to win, with no deposit or spend required.
So, why participate in bingo promotions? It’s all about entertainment value for money!
I said “may” reduce the house edge because sometimes it works the other way when the promotion involves a fixed jackpot or tangible prize which doesn’t change when the numbers of participants goes up. Imagine a bingo game with a £1000 holiday voucher as the full house prize; that prize is going to remain the same whether 100, 1000 or 10,000 players buy tickets and the more tickets they sell, the worse the overall RTP gets. If you are amongst the first to buy tickets you can’t possibly know what sort of value for money you are going to end up getting. Sliding jackpots can end up being even worse value for money because people tend to look at the headline prize rather than the minimum guarantee when deciding whether to buy tickets.
In 2021, bingo sites have to be quite a bit more careful than they used to be about the promotions that they run:
A few years ago, though, it was like the Wild West and there were some truly dreadful rip-offs masquerading as bingo promotions. Here are a few of the worst offenders…
Back when they were under the old management (before being bought by 888), Costa Bingo and sister sites used to run (non free) bingo games where the prize was a deposit bonus code; of course these “prizes” were completely useless unless you actually planned to make a deposit (not to mention the wagering requirement that came with the code).
Ever fancied winning a novelty kangaroo onesie? Or how about a smartphone that you could just pick up free with a cheap contract? Or a restaurant discount card that’s useless unless you actually want to eat out at one of the participating venues? Thought not!
More recently, Sun Bingo offered a prize in their Win A Cuppa Tea promotion which, while not by any means worthless, was definitely not as good as it sounded. The promotion was a “get one entry for each £10 you spend” prize draw and there were thirty prizes of a year’s supply of tea. Sounds great, but when you read the small print it was a large pack (1200) of Twinings Everyday Teabags and you only needed to Google to find out how much it was actually worth.
In these, found at some Jumpman and Dragonfish bingo sites, you needed to collect wins on a specific pattern or patterns in 75 ball bingo. Sometimes it would be a pattern that was thematically related to the prize – e.g. a shopping bag pattern for a prize of shopping vouchers, and sometimes you needed to collect several letter patterns to spell out a word – e.g. L-O-V-E for a Valentine’s Day promotion.
There’s only one prize in 75 ball pattern bingo games so it can take a long time to collect even one win. Participation therefore required lots of time, patience and money (and you couldn’t tell how much beforehand) and the prizes were rarely worthwhile.
Another favourite at Ignite (the original owners of Costa Bingo), in this type of promotion you had to complete a variety of tasks such as making a deposit, playing £10 on a specified slot, winning bingo on a specific pattern etc in order to collect a reward (which was usually entry to a prize draw or a prize bingo game rather than anything with intrinsic value). The problem was with the winning bingo on a specific pattern or number; there’s no way of telling how much you would need to spend to do that. Winning on a specific pattern is hard enough, but specific numbers are far harder. Just think of how many 90 ball bingo games you normally have to play to get a win; now multiply that by 90 and you’ll see how expensive getting a win on a specific number could be – if it could be done at all within the time limit!
These used to be run at Jumpman sites; you could score points by winning bingo on particular numbers or patterns (a problem in itself as discussed above) but also by simply spending money on slots which was much easier and turned the whole thing into a contest to see who could spend the most money. Ewww.
A certain group of sites used to advertise “daily cashback” until quite recently. You would that meant that each day, you’d get a percentage of your losses back as cash, right? WRONG! It was cash all right, but it could ONLY be claimed the day after making a deposit so you would never be able to receive any cashback for losses made on days when you hadn’t made a deposit. Talk about encouraging players to blow through their entire deposit in less than 24 hours!
Cozy Games sites were well known for their player unfriendly terms and conditions and a prime example of this was the truly dire “cashback” promotion they all ran. Not only was it a casino bonus complete with wagering requirement (so not actually cashback at all), it could only be claimed if you deposited a substantial amount during the week, withdrew nothing and had less than £5 left in your account at the end. So again, encouraging players to make a big deposit and lose the lot pronto!
This was yet another horror from the old style Costa Bingo. The only two ways to get tickets for this sliding jackpot game (which also happened to be one where you had to bingo in a stupendously unlikely 24-28 calls in 75 ball to win the headline prize) were to pay £10 cash each for them, or earn one for every £50 played on the featured slot and scratchcard. As if this wasn’t bad enough, on the very last day of the promo a third way was announced! All you had to do was deposit £10 and you’d get 5 free cards as well as a deposit bonus….a bit easier than paying £50 cash or playing £250 on slots to say the least, so anyone who had already done the latter might understandably be very annoyed!
Last Fox Standing was a Foxy Bingo special from years ago, when they were still owned by Cashcade and powered by Dragonfish – NOTHING like the Foxy Bingo of today. The prize was a £5000 casino bonus but what you had to do to be in with a chance of winning it was quite frankly outrageous. To complete the first stage you needed to play slots every day for a month and play through a minimum of £11,200. To win the last fox standing part you had to play through £1000 or more a day and keep going till everyone else had dropped out – or else be the overall biggest spender if not everyone dropped out. The winner collected the whole £5000 (along with a REALLY hefty wagering requirement) and no-one else got anything at all.
Needless to say this kind of inducement to spend £££ relentlessly would never be allowed now.
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