The Bede Gaming bingo network was not actually owned by Bede Gaming. Until early 2018 the operator was IPS (Intellectual Property & Software Ltd) but then the network was acquired by well known casino operator Leo Vegas who were not interested in promoting their sites to UK players. The Bede bingo sites were already a long way down the road to becoming casino & slot sites with a bit of bingo rather than bingo sites as such and in 2020 this process came to a natural conclusion when the Bede bingo product was dropped completely and replaced with the Pragmatic Play bingo product as also seen at Jumpman bingo and slot sites.
Bede Gaming is a privately owned and very British company whose headquarters is in Newcastle upon Tyne (they also have offices in London and in Sofia, Bulgaria). The Newcastle HQ is an upgrade from the original premises in Gosforth; the bigger offices were needed due to rapid growth.
A relative newcomer to the iGaming landscape, Bede was founded in 2012. However, several of the people behind Bede have been involved in the industry from the beginning – the CEO, for instance, was instrumental in the launch of the first UK online bingo site back in 2003.
Bingo was only ever a small part of Bede’s business. Their flagship product is something that players rarely take much notice of – the back end. BedeHUB is an open platform, meaning that gaming content from all sorts of suppliers can be plugged in and it is this which enabled Bede bingo sites to offer such a wide range of slots and slots promotions. There have even been bingo sites that run on the Bede open platform and have bingo from a supplier other than Bede. The best known example of this (and also currently the only bingo site being run in this way) is Mecca Bingo, where the Virtue Fusion bingo product is plugged into a Bede back end. Bede’s deal with Rank Gaming also has them running the Grosvenor Casinos digital channel.
Most of the gaming content on Bede run sites is from third party suppliers, but they do also have a small number of their own slots (12 as of spring 2017), table games and until recently the bingo product. All of Bede’s own content is HTML5 rather than Flash so works seamlessly across all devices.
The Bede bingo software won the EGR Bingo Supplier of the Year award twice in its relatively short life but only ever powered a handful of sites and to understand why this is we need to look back to 2013 when the first Bede powered bingo sites were launched. BingoStars was first on the scene in the summer and was followed in early autumn by the much hyped Bingo Godz (owned by Gaming Realms rather than by Bede themselves).
Bingo Godz turned out to be one of the biggest and most expensive flops in the history of online bingo (along with Castle Jackpot, a casino also at that time owned by Gaming Realms, it managed to lose over £2 million in just 18 months). Bingo Godz eventually closed in October 2018, bringing the failed project to an end after 5 years. But was the failure of Bingo Godz because of the Bede software?
Our view is that largely, it wasn’t. Bingo Godz attempted to bring some very complicated gamification into the world of online bingo and not only was the execution of this idea seriously bungled, it probably wasn’t even a particularly good idea in the first place. Needing to spend time collecting things in order to level up for access to bingo rooms with higher ticket prices and bigger prizes was never going to be popular with players who naturally want to be able to buy into big money games at will, nor does it make any sense for the bingo site operators who want to sell as many tickets as possible!
As for the execution of the gamification idea, the timing of the launch was determined by a TV advertising campaign booked months in advance so that when that time came along and the product wasn’t ready, they had to launch anyway. This meant that the Bingo Godz themselves – the central feature of the gamification – weren’t available at launch, making it impossible to level up even if the higher levels had been ready, which they weren’t. Indeed, many of the levels and many of the Godz never showed up at all.
However, there were also a couple of problems (one major, one minor) which WERE to do with the Bede software.
The major problem was the complete lack of 75 ball bingo. For the first year of its existence the Bede bingo software only had 90 ball bingo. Even after 75 ball bingo eventually arrived it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea; Bede 75 ball bingo had 3 prizes for 1 line, the pattern and full house, and no free centre square, making it rather different to 75 ball games elsewhere.
The minor problem – which was never really fixed – is that the bingo rooms had a tendency to get out of sync with the bingo lobby, so that when you returned to the lobby after playing in one of the bingo rooms, what you saw was the lobby as it was before you joined that room – causing rooms to show as open when they were not and vice versa. Once Bede made it possible to switch bingo rooms without going back to the lobby this ceased to be anything other than a minor annoyance.
In one very important respect the Bede bingo software was ahead of its time. The software was created with mobile play in mind and never used Adobe Flash, so during the period when major suppliers such as Dragonfish were dragging their heels over switching from Flash to HTML5, there should have been an opportunity for the Bede product to gain traction.
As for Bingo Godz, Bede took over the ownership from Gaming Realms and gradually removed all of the gamification until all that remained of the original theming was the names of the bingo rooms, the Bingo Godz themselves being long gone. Some of their special powers, however, resurfaced as bonus features in certain bingo games across the network (for instance, the Magic Marker feature which daubed a random number on each card). These bonus features introduced some variety into the Bede Gaming bingo (although it would have needed to do much, much more to have as much variety as Virtue Fusion).
After the first few launches of Bede bingo sites there were no more for quite some time. Respected sportsbook operator Betvictor were reportedly planning to launch a bingo offering on the Bede platform but this never came to fruition. The network ran shared Big Link bingo games but was never large enough for the prize money to be very enticing.
Eventually, in early 2017 a few sites which had been running on the Bede back end with Virtue Fusion bingo migrated to the Bede bingo product and this was the cue for more changes including a rearrangement of the bingo timetable to harmonise it across the network and the introduction of a weekly £5000 jackpot game as well.
This was the point, with other bingo networks still grappling with the necessity of moving away from Flash, where the Bede network had its best shot at attaining the critical mass and network identity it previously lacked, facilitating the launch of more Bede bingo sites in the future. That best shot turned out not to be good enough, however, and once the sale to LeoVegas was agreed the writing was on the wall for the Bede bingo product. Several of the sites which had been powered by Bede closed and the ones that didn’t, switched to the Pragmatic Play bingo product in March 2020.
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