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A Guide To Mobile Bingo

A Guide To Mobile Bingo


Sue Dawson

Most UK bingo sites now offer some kind of mobile bingo but this is not always fully featured.  Our mobile bingo listings include bingo sites with Apple and/or Android apps for easy access, but there are other ways to play bingo on the go.

Before the advent of mobile bingo, if you wanted to play online bingo and see how the game panned out you’d be tied to your desk.  Not any more!  Play on a tablet or smartphone and you can play mobile bingo anywhere around the house or garden, as well as on the move.  You could even play with a group of friends if they all have their tablets with them – how’s that for a 21st century idea?

  1. Mobile Bingo – How It Works
  2. Mobile Bingo – Network/Software Overview
  3. The Future Of Mobile Bingo

Mobile Bingo – How It Works

Mobile Bingo and Adobe Flash

When bingo first went online, the vast majority of bingo and slots programs were written using Adobe Flash and as recently as 2018 several still were.  Apple have never supported Flash and while very early versions of Android did, versions from 2012 onwards stopped doing so.  Flash was far too vulnerable to exploits to be suitable for use on mobile devices where secure information is regularly transmitted across the internet.

This presented a big problem for people wanting to play bingo on their mobiles as the bingo lobby wouldn’t work on Apple phones at all and would only work on (some) Android phones if you overrode the security settings.  Not only that, but the combination of Flash and a touchscreen rarely worked well.

Early Mobile Bingo Products

You would think that operators would swiftly move to fill that gap in the market, wouldn’t you?  Maybe they would have done, if they’d understood that the gap existed.  We can laugh about this now, but in the early 2010s, there were many in the industry who thought that mobile bingo would never become a thing because the screens were too small and the connections too slow.  The result of the demand for mobile bingo not being taken seriously enough was that many bingo sites had either

  1. No mobile service at all or
  2. Some kind of drastically cut down mobile service.   We’re talking no chat, only one bingo room, or even slots only.  Perhaps the most annoying of the cut down bingo products was the pre-2018 Jumpman mobile platform; it let you buy bingo tickets but you couldn’t get into the bingo room to see the game play out!

Only a few bingo products were ahead of the curve, in one (or more) of the following ways.

Responsive Mobile Bingo

In 2021, almost every website you visit is responsive.  In fact, you’ve probably forgotten what a non responsive site looks like!  Responsive sites detect your device type, screen size and resolution and rearrange the page or load a slightly different version to suit; if you try to view a non responsive site on a small screen you’ll find parts of it are offscreen.

By far the most common way to deliver a bingo product across all devices these days is via a responsive website written in HTML5.

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. There’s no need to download anything.  The responsive bingo sites of today load a mobile version that usually includes everything you’d get on a computer screen but with some creative solutions such as pop-ups and navigation icons to keep the much smaller phone screen uncluttered.  Early responsive bingo sites were a bit more hit and miss though.

If the desktop version of the bingo site was still Flash (and most were including all Dragonfish bingo sites prior to 2017 and all Virtue Fusion bingo sites prior to 2016) the mobile version that was loaded would be completely different; these early HTML5 mobile bingo clients were often very poor relations of the Flash lobby.

Lots of bingo sites had a rather lax approach to security in the early days of responsive mobile bingo; rather than having secure browsing enabled for the entire session they would only switch to secure browsing if the player tried to make a deposit – creating a potential security problem for anyone who used mobile bingo at those sites over public wi-fi  (in a coffee shop, for instance).

mobile bingo security

Nowadays everyone has switched to secure browsing throughout and this can be verified by checking for the https (rather than http) and padlock sign in the browser address bar before login:

Modern browsers such as Google Chrome will also take a look behind the scenes to check the site’s security credentials and will let you know in no uncertain terms if there is a problem with the security certificate!


 mobile bingo not safe

This helps protect players from one of the possible drawbacks of responsive mobile bingo – malicious typosquatting,  where fraudsters set up a site with a name almost identical to a well known and trusted site, that could easily be typed in by mistake or clicked on without noticing the difference.

Mobile Bingo Apps

The advantages of playing via a mobile bingo app on a phone or tablet instead of using the device’s built in browser are those of convenience and security – as there is no need to type in a site address there is no danger of falling foul of typosquatting, and as the browser is bypassed there is no danger of accidentally saving the password in the browser settings thus inadvertently allowing children who use the same devices (or the same browser ID on a different device) to access a gambling account.

In 2021, however, there are simply not very many bingo sites that have Apple or Android apps.  Google didn’t allow real money gambling apps in the Play Store until relatively recently (2017) when the advent of geo-gating meant that such apps could be made unavailable in parts of the world where online gambling isn’t allowed.  We thought that would result in many more real money bingo apps on Android but it appears that the process of getting approved for the Play Store is so rigorous that it’s only really big name sites like Mecca Bingo and Tombola that have been able to launch Android apps – and not even all of the big names have one.  Apple versions are slightly more common, but nothing like as common as they used to be; this is because Apple tightened up the requirements for real money gambling apps in September 2019 so that only fully fledged native apps were allowed in the App Store.  Prior to that, many bingo sites had rudimentary apps that put their HTML5 mobile site inside a wrapper that added a shortcut to the phone screen which loaded the site in the phone browser.  The only Apple real money bingo apps you’ll find in the App Store now are native apps from big name operators.

How To Install Mobile Bingo Apps

The safest way to do this for an Apple or Android app is to go to the bingo site from your phone’s browser and look for a button there rather than by going to the App Store or Google Play independently.  Some bingo sites will even detect your phone’s operating system and place a notification at the top of the screen inviting you to download their app whereas others have App Store and Google Play buttons.

  • When you follow an App Store link from the site you know the app is still current and therefore properly supported
  • There have been many cases of fake apps in the App Store including fake shopping apps and fake Minecraft games so it is important to make sure that you get the genuine article.

 mobile bingo app store buttons

Another installation path for mobile bingo apps is via a link or passcode sent by text message to the player’s mobile phone and this is the method generally used by phone only casinos. It is super easy to use and has good security.

A further type of bingo app you may come across is a Progressive Web App or PWA.  This is not really an app at all; all it does is install a shortcut to the bingo site’s home page on your phone screen and cache it on your phone for faster loading.  You still have to remember passwords etc and it doesn’t have the security advantages of a true app, only the convenience.


Mobile Bingo – Network/Software Overview

Most bingo software these days has a fully functional mobile version.  The main differences between the different mobile bingo platforms are in the number of tickets that are displayed on screen at a time and in how the chat is handled.

Dragonfish/888

Dragonfish bingo sites started their mobile journey with a responsive mobile version which was automatically loaded when you tried to access the site from a phone or tablet, but it was significantly different to many desktop versions in that it consisted of just one page with login and registration buttons. Everything else (such as the promotions page and the terms and conditions) was inside the mobile/tablet lobby on a different URL on the bingosys.net domain and only visible after login.

Costa Bingo Mobile

The mobile and desktop version have now converged with the result that a large number of Dragonfish bingo sites consist of just one mobile optimised page across all devices and you can’t find out much about the bingo rooms, slot games or current promotions without a login. At least the mobile lobby is now on the “right” domain and not bingosys.net!

The mobile bingo itself hasn’t changed much.  It works in portrait mode only and displays a small number of tickets.  Chat is accessible via a pop-up but when open it covers the whole screen so you can’t see what is going on with the game.

One extremely annoying thing about Dragonfish mobile bingo is that the ticket purchase screen has 24 tickets as the lowest preset and if you want to buy fewer you have to subtract them one at a time using the minus button or close the purchase screen, unselect all the tickets and then add them back in.  It’s made even more annoying by the lack of pre-buy on the platform; if you’re scrabbling to buy tickets on your phone in the short ticket purchase window between games, sooner or later you’re going to slip up and buy more tickets than you intended.

Virtue Fusion / Playtech

If you’ve ever wondered why there are so few Virtue Fusion bingo sites left in 2021, it’s partly to do with the way the rollout of mobile bingo took place across the network.  The big name bookies went mobile early on but because the mobile service wasn’t standard and operators had to pay extra for it, smaller Virtue Fusion sites usually didn’t have any mobile bingo at all and as late as 2014, new Virtue Fusion sites were launching without it.

Once the HTML5 version of the Virtue Fusion bingo lobby came out in 2016, new bingo sites on Virtue Fusion had to use it on all devices and weren’t given the choice of the older Flash lobby.  This wasn’t ideal either, firstly because lots of players hated the new lobby (and could still access the Flash lobby at older Virtue Fusion sites if they chose) and secondly because the selection of slot games that came with it was pretty dismal compared to say Dragonfish sites (again, operators could pay extra to get a bigger selection via a version of the platform called Portal).

In early 2016 Virtue Fusion rolled out their first bingo variant, the HTML5 only Cash Cubes, that was clearly designed with mobile bingo in mind, and every bingo variant introduced at Playtech bingo sites since then – and there have been quite a few such games that are exclusive to one particular site – has also been HTML5 only. Eventually the sheer number of games that were HTML5 only was enough to persuade even the most diehard players to accept the new lobby and the Flash lobby was finally dropped.

Because of all this, none of the new Virtue Fusion sites that launched during the period when Flash was being phased out became popular with players and not a single one of them is still around today.  Most of the smaller sites that were in existence before then have gone out of business too, because it was too expensive for them to add a fully featured mobile service with an attractive selection of slot games.  So only the big names are left – and not all of them, due to Entain moving their sites to proprietary software.

The Virtue Fusion mobile product itself is great and it’s hard to imagine these days how anyone could have preferred the slow, resource heavy Flash lobby.

On a phone, many items are moved off screen to make room for the bingo tickets; the chat can be accessed via the buttons at the bottom of the screen, as can slots, settings and help.

Virtue Fusion Mobile Bingo

Virtue Fusion Simplified View

Virtue Fusion HTML5 bingo can be set to Simplified Ticket View as seen in the above screenshot.  This 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; it used to be the default setting for mobile bingo but now, somewhat annoyingly, if you switch to it on your phone it shows up on all other devices as well.

Pop the chat up and the tickets automatically go into Simplified View if you haven’t already switched to it ; pop it back down and they go back to normal

Entain

Entain’s responsive mobile bingo product follows the well trodden path of having the bingo in portrait mode only with chat accessible via a pop-up; this collapses the bingo tickets, though, so that the numbers are not visible (you can still see how many TG each ticket is).

The Entain software is based on the old Cozy software which had a well functioning HTML5 mobile version early on, but they’ve clearly taken inspiration from the Virtue Fusion platform that Coral Bingo used to be on as the user interface for ticket purchase is much better than it was on Cozy; there’s a slider making it easy to buy as few or as many tickets as you like.


Pragmatic Play

Pragmatic Play Mobile Bingo

Pragmatic Play’s bingo product was built with mobile first in mind and has obviously been influenced by other very good mobile bingo products that came before it.

The chat is in a pop-up (apart from at Jumpman sites and some others where it’s been disabled completely) and although it covers most of the screen there’s an information bar that remains visible and tells you how your tickets are doing.  Pragmatic Play also have a speed bingo game called Bingo Blast which was specifically designed for mobiles; it’s a 90 ball game with only one prize (for full house) and most of the calls are done all at once in one or two “blasts”, leaving just the end of the game to play at normal speed.  It certainly makes sense as a way of making 90 ball bingo more snackable for phone players!


Relax Gaming

Relax Gaming Mobile Bingo

The Relax Gaming bingo software was also developed when mobile bingo was already a thing, so it comes as no surprise that the mobile version includes all the features of the desktop version (for instance, the information about which other players have 1TG or 2TG and which numbers they need). The chat is in a pop-up but in a nice touch, it is translucent so it is possible to chat and see the bingo game at the same time.


Intouch

Mfortune Mobile Tutorial
The Intouch mobile phone bingo platform is exclusive to mFortune and is really very good indeed (albeit 90 ball only, in a number of10p and 25p rooms).  The chat is on the same screen as the bingo but does not look at all cramped, and everything else is really easy to access – you can even send gifts!  The bingo is an app that has to be downloaded to your phone and you’ll automatically be sent to the correct app store (or given the choice of the Google or Galaxy store if you have a Samsung phone!). The first time you use the bingo, tutorial mode is automatically engaged to walk you through it.


Tombola

Tombola Mobile
The mobile version of Tombola Bingo can be accessed either via phone browser or via their mobile bingo app.  It includes all their conventional bingo games and most of their other games and is one of the best as far as being able to see the numbers on the tickets.  Chat is in a pop-up and does not obscure the whole game – the calls and the top ticket are still visible when the chat window is open.


Starting with Blocks in August 2018, Tombola have added a whole series of unique bingo games that have been designed with mobile phones in mind, including the innovative no-numbers games Morph and Bubble Bingo.  In the screenshots from Morph, the entire game moves into a smaller pane when the chat is popped up. Tombola also have Merge, a daily free game that is activated via a code sent by SMS.

Morph without chat

Morph with chat


Gamesys

Heart Bingo Mobile

For many years Gamesys bingo sites had a mobile service which was almost entirely about the slots and was a very much a poor relation as far as bingo is concerned.   Just two of the bingo rooms at Jackpot Joy  – 90 ball Sapphire Bingo and 75 ball Lounge Bingo – could be accessed on phone or tablet via a browser and their mobile app did not include any bingo at all.  This has now all changed and they have a full mobile service via Apple and Android apps – even allowing login to be via fingerprint so there is no need to remember your password, just your username. Use the icons at the bottom of the screen to switch between ticket purchase for the next game, your tickets in play, the chat and a mini game.  There’s a simplified ticket view in the Settings menu.


The Future Of Mobile Bingo

We confidently predict that in the future, mobile bingo will cease to be a thing. Indeed, it’s well on the way to not being a thing already. That’s not to say it’s on the way out – it’s quite the reverse. People will stop saying “mobile bingo” in the same way they’ve already stopped saying “mobile phone” and now say just “phone”, using “landline” in the rare instances where they are talking about a non-mobile phone. And it will be just “bingo” – because all online bingo sites now work on phones and that’s how most people are choosing to play.


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