In 2021, there is one payment method and one payment method only that’s guaranteed to be accepted at ALL UK bingo sites, with NO charges or other nasty surprises in the small print, and that’s a regular debit card linked to a UK bank account.
With ANY other payment method there’s the risk that it could cause you to miss out on bonuses or make it more difficult or expensive to withdraw.
Nevertheless, many other ways of making a deposit are available.
Paypal is arguably the most popular alternative payment method at UK bingo sites and certainly the most widely accepted e-wallet. To be able to deposit with Paypal, you’ll need to use the same email address to register for the bingo site as you did for the Paypal account. Some bingo sites now exclude deposits made with Paypal from bonus offers, so it is important to check the terms and conditions before signing up if you want to be able to take advantage of player promotions.
The most commonly accepted prepaid voucher payment system at online bingo sites used to be Ukash, but quite some time ago it was taken over and replaced by Paysafecard. Although its name makes it sound like a prepaid debit card (and it physically looks like one) Paysafecard is actually a voucher payment system (so more along the lines of an iTunes card or store gift card than a debit card). Buy a Paysafecard PIN at an outlet or online in fixed denominations.
Mobile phone billing allows deposits to be deducted from PAYG credit or added to the player’s next phone bill. While this seems an obvious facility to be incorporated into a mobile phone app, you may be surprised to hear that some bingo sites allow deposits to be charged to a mobile phone bill regardless of whether the phone is ever actually used to play!
Credit card is a deposit method that you definitely WON’T be able to use at any UK bingo site (even though you may have done so in the past). Indeed, credit cards can’t be used for any gambling transactions, either directly or via a payment services provider, and this has been the case since the Gambling Commission ban on credit cards took effect on 14th April 2020. The ban covers offline as well as online transactions, and it is no longer permissible to use a credit card even for something as apparently innocuous as buying a raffle ticket for charity! The ONLY exception allowed is when you buy a lottery ticket along with a load of groceries.
As well as outlawing credit cards themselves as a deposit method, this has led to the removal of several other deposit methods at some bingo sites, when the operator didn’t want to be bothered policing whether a credit card could have been involved at some stage of the process.
A debit card isn’t just a universally accepted and easy to use payment option – if you don’t have one, you may find it difficult to open an account at all. Most bingo sites now require you to register a debit card with them for account verification, even if you use a different method when you actually deposit. The card MUST be in the name of the player – it is not possible, for instance, to use a card belonging to a family member and if you try to do so you are likely to have your account cancelled.
Visa debit cards are generally preferable to Mastercard debit cards for two reasons:
The main disadvantage of using a debit card is that if it is linked to your regular bank account, the potential consequences of a security breach may be harder to deal with than they would have been with a credit card. Ways around this include opening a separate bank account for online purchases or using a prepaid debit card (be warned, though, that some sites don’t accept prepaid cards).
A prepaid debit card is NOT linked to a bank account in the same way as a regular debit card. With a regular debit card, the money is debited from your bank account at the time of transaction. A prepaid card has to be pre-loaded with funds (and typically there is either a charge for doing this, a monthly fee or a transaction fee). Prepaid cards can be physical (in which case it may be possible to fund them with cash) or virtual (in which case they need to be funded from a linked bank account). Again, be aware of the above mentioned problem with Mastercard withdrawals.
If you are making your first deposit with any method OTHER than a debit card, be sure to check the terms and conditions before depositing, to ensure your deposit will qualify for the welcome bonus. Lots of bingo sites exclude many of the alternative payment methods!
Most bingo sites currently accept at least one of these (one notable exception being Gamesys bingo sites which now only accept debit cards). The main advantage of prepaid voucher payment systems is that you do not need any form of bank account or payment card to use them – cash will do.
Paysafecard is the best known prepaid voucher payment system, but there are others.
Neosurf is the latest entrant to the prepaid voucher system market. It’s originally French and as yet very few UK sites accept it. You can buy Neosurf vouchers at many convenience stores or online using cash or cards (for gambling in the UK, of course, it can’t be with a credit card). It has the same advantages and disadvantages as Paysafecard – safe and secure but can’t be used for withdrawals, and you’ll still have to give the bingo or slot site a lot of personal information for account verification.
PromoCode is a 12 digit code specifically for gambling credit, issued as some kind of a reward.
CashtoCode allows you to deposit up to £250 at sites that accept it, funded in cash with no need for bank or card details. First, you go to the cashier at the site where you want to deposit, select CashtoCode and choose the amount to create a barcode. Then, you visit a PayPoint retail outlet where the staff scan the barcode and collect the cash. Bingo! Your deposit is ready to use!
The main difference between a prepayment system and an e-wallet is that e-wallets can always accept payments as well as make them – so if you deposit using an e-wallet and win, the proceeds can be paid back into the e-wallet. Most bingo sites accept at least one type of e-wallet (usually it’s Paypal).
One big advantage of e-wallets is that you only have to share your card details with the e-wallet provider once and there’s no need to send them multiple times over the internet to different operators.
Other e-wallets sometimes used by UK players are Neteller and Skrill/Moneybookers. Both Skrill and Neteller are owned by the Paysafe Group (who also, as the name suggests, own Paysafecard). Skrill and Neteller have little to recommend them to bingo players, however, as deposits made by these methods are almost always excluded from bonus offers.
E-wallets are subject to the “no credit cards” rule and both the operator and payment processor are supposed to police that; perhaps this explains why some operators (such as Gamesys) have dropped e-wallets completely.
An e-wallet app works on your mobile phone, drawing funds from a connected card to fund purchases on or offline. Apple Pay is the most widely accepted e-wallet app at UK bingo sites – it is available at most Dragonfish bingo sites – but it can’t be used for withdrawals, only for deposits.
Paypal is also available as an app as well as a regular e-wallet. The latest e-wallets are only available as apps.
MuchBetter comes with an optional debit card and contactless fob. It offers enhanced security and the MuchBetter Rewards loyalty scheme so looks like an interesting alternative to Paypal – but only a few UK bingo sites accept it at the moment. More casinos do, though, so it is probably only a matter of time before MuchBetter bingo sites appear. Interestingly, MuchBetter can itself be funded using CashtoCode.
Luxon is another e-wallet app that isn’t widely available at the moment but looks set to gain traction in the near future.
Omni-channel gaming is frequently touted as the future of online bingo and all other forms of gambling. In Playtech‘s vision of the omni-channel user experience of the future, the same account and wallet would be used to play bingo, slots and casino games and place sporting and celebrity bets and this could be done online via any device or offline in a variety of venues.
Omni-channel payment methods have yet to gain much traction, with the first to appear being the multi-channel version of Coral Connect. Coral Bingo players can get a card with a PIN number that can be used (in conjunction with supplementary ID) to deposit cash to and/or withdraw cash from a Coral Online account in any of Coral’s betting shops across the country. New players can now open a Coral Connect account at a Coral shop by depositing cash and this enables players to have access to Coral Online without having to have a debit card (although they will still have to satisfy ID requirements).
At Mecca Bingo, Cash Out In Club is another means of depositing to and/or withdrawing from an online bingo account in cash, although there is a limit for both types of transaction of £100 a day and you have to phone them ahead of time if you want to withdraw. Again, supplementary ID is required. Funds can also be transferred from a Mecca Max account (for playing bingo on a tablet in a club) to an online account.
Yet another option is the branded prepaid debit card solution seen at Paddy Power and other large operators. Winnings can be withdrawn to the prepaid card which can then be used elsewhere just like a normal debit card.
Buzz Bingo have gone one step further still; in August 2020 they started to roll out single wallet functionality at all of their clubs. When the roll-out is complete, each player’s account will operate seamlessly across their website and all Buzz clubs in a way which is truly omni-channel.
For those who do not want to transmit any bank or card details over the internet, there are ways to deposit such as a direct bank transfer (e.g. at Dragonfish sites) and Western Union (e.g. at Ladbrokes), plus direct transfer methods such as Trustly many of which are valid in certain specified countries only (such as the German Giropay).
This type of solution can seem attractive if you want to give the bingo site as little as possible of your personal information – but since the sites are required to carry out age and ID verification as a condition of their licence, expect to have to supply lots of other forms of ID in order to withdraw or possibly even just to keep playing.
Cryptocurrencies have been touted for many years as the future of online payments. There are many of these, with Bitcoin being the best known, and there are certainly players out there (though maybe not bingo players) who want to play in Bitcoin – back in August 2013, a single Bitcoin gambling site accounted for more than half the volume of all Bitcoin transactions!
Currently there are NO bingo sites for UK players that accept Bitcoin – not legal ones anyway, as the UK Gambling Commission has made it clear that as far as it is concerned cryptocurrencies count as “money’s worth” and that therefore any UK facing gambling sites operating in Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency require a UK licence (and would be subject to UK taxation). This would mean that the sites had to run on an already licensed platform and in fact this is a major obstacle for bitcoin gambling in the UK because Bitcoin casino games are generally based on the same blockchain technology as Bitcoin itself rather than using a licensed RNG. The advantage of this is that bets can be provably fair, although goodness knows how this would be implemented for bingo games. The situation is further complicated by the position regarding the regulation of the cryptocurrencies themselves which is still developing. Since gambling sites are already subject to the know-your-customer and anti money laundering requirements but the bitcoin exchanges (in some ways the equivalent of banks) are not as yet, it seems simpler for bingo sites to wait to accept bitcoin until the FCA gets around to regulating it, especially as in other gaming jurisdictions such as the Isle of Man the process is already under way.
Various attempts have been made over the last few years to bring crypto to UK facing gambling sites. Back in 2014 it was announced that Cozy Games had partnered with GoCoin (a cryptocurrency payment processor) which would enable Cozy powered sites to accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies such as the meme-inspired Dogecoin, but unsurprisingly nothing came of this. Although Cozy had an IoM licence, for UK players to be able to deposit or play in Bitcoin this would also have to be allowed under its UK licence. Following the demise of the Cozy platform, this is now never going to happen. One UK facing casino did accept Bitcoin for a while in early 2014 (Bitcoin deposits were converted into pounds or euros at current exchange rates and play was in regular currency but if deposits had been made using Bitcoin withdrawals were issued in Bitcoin) but this stopped after discussions with the regulator (Malta Gaming Authority as this was before the change to UK regulation).
Another factor is that Bitcoin prices peaked back at the end of 2013 and when the price declined so did the excitement – although world events in 2016 caused Bitcoin prices to rally as investors become nervous about any type of fiat currency, and the summer of that year saw a major step on the way to regulation with the introduction of Europe’s first regulated exchange traded instrument for cryptocurrency.
Crypto prices surged again in the second half of 2020 so in 2021, there will no doubt be plenty of would-be crypto gamblers around. The latest official view in the UK, however, seems to be that cryptocurrencies are not actually currencies at all but “crypto-assets” – and super risky for those who trade in them – so while regulation is almost certainly coming, crypto gambling may never be allowed at UK sites.
If this all sounds like gobbledegook, the TL;DR version is that Bitcoin bingo or any other form of crypto bingo is still a thing of the far distant future for UK players, and quite possibly not even then.
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