The writing is on the wall for Microgaming bingo sites. Despite having recently introduced a brand new 30 ball bingo game, the iGaming giant announced in April 2020 that it would be closing the Microgaming bingo product. We don’t yet have a date for when this will happen, but it seems certain that all bingo sites currently on the Microgaming network (plus several who were reputedly going to launch in 2020) will migrate to different bingo software.
Microgaming were responsible for the launch of the first true online casino way back in 1994 and have been considered innovators in the world of online gaming ever since, creating over 850 unique games including over 350 mobile games. Microgaming progressive jackpot slots have paid out both the biggest ever win at an online bingo site – £5.8 million at Butlers Bingo – and the Guinness World Record for the biggest ever payout by an online slot machine – over £13 million at Betway. Microgaming also power hundreds of online casinos worldwide and operate a well established global poker network which has won multiple awards.
The company has been based on the Isle of Man since 2001 and within a year or arrival on the island had started to give back to the local community by setting up the Microgaming Health and Care Trust to support local projects. In 2014 Microgaming PlayItForward was launched, extending the work of the Trust and supporting Manx charities and community projects.
At Dragonfish and Cozy, the Gambling Commission licence is held by the network operator (888 in the case of Dragonfish), and at Virtue Fusion, although the really big operators have their own licences, the few remaining smaller operators are all covered by Virtue Fusion’s own licence. The situation at Microgaming bingo sites was quite different as although Microgaming do have their own remote gambling software, bingo and casino licence, each operator on the Microgaming network also had to have their own licence (some covering multiple sites under the same ownership). While this put quite a big obstacle in the way of anyone who wanted to open a Microgaming bingo site of their own, it was actually good news for players and not just because the operator of the site had to convince the UK Gambling Commission of their suitability!
In a situation where the network is the licence holder and is responsible for upholding the LCCP (licence conditions and code of practice), everything that could have an impact on this (including player communications and promotions) has to be routed through or approved by the network and this can make it very difficult for the operator to do anything to make their site more than just a skin. The Microgaming operators, on the other hand, were able to do much more to make their bingo sites stand out from the crowd.
Virtue Fusion bingo sites have what seems like dozens of online bingo variants including Deal Or No Deal bingo and Rainbow Riches bingo as well as 80 ball, but you won’t find anything like this variety at a Microgaming bingo site. Microgaming sites did, however, have one special variant in the form of Immortal Romance Bingo, which was based on 90 ball bingo and featured characters from the Immortal Romance slot. Each of the characters had their own version of the game with a special bonus power that triggered when a particular ball was called, and there were also 4 jackpots to play for (one of which was free spins on the slot, the others cash) after collecting 20 special Medallion numbers over a series of games. The Immortal Romance bingo room was available across the network during the evenings but alas, it was Flash only so has now been retired.
The number of network bingo rooms at Microgaming actually compares well to those on the Dragonfish network. Although the Dragonfish lobby contains many more rooms, a lot of them are just there to allow pre-buy for games that run once a week or once a month – and in fact Microgaming offers more choice for those who prefer 90 ball bingo as it is available 24/7. Microgaming is less well served for 75 ball games, with the network room only open in the afternoon and evening.
Although the Microgaming slots network is absolutely huge, with multi million pound progressives, and has to date paid out over half a BILLION pounds in jackpots, the bingo network is much smaller than the Virtue Fusion or Dragonfish network. This has both plus and minus points. On the plus side, with a smaller network there can be more of a community feel and with fewer players in a bingo room, each player has a better chance of winning than they would do in a super busy room. On the minus side, fewer players means smaller prize pots, not even in the same ballpark as Virtue Fusion, who offer £1000+ bingo games every single day.
Apart from a series of special games on the last weekend of every month, Microgaming have little in the way of network bingo promotions. They do, however, run periodic slots promotions with extremely nice prizes such as exotic holidays – but as these run across the huge Microgaming slots network the chance of winning is invariably tiny.
It is common for Microgaming sites just to run the network promotions and not bother with much in the way of exclusive promotions, or if they do have exclusive promotions just to run the same ones regularly. Dream Bingo used to have exclusive promotions going on most of the time (often via their Facebook page) but this has largely stopped now.
Microgaming bingo sites all come with a mobile version and most but not all of the slots are playable on mobile too.
Microgaming bingo sites all used to offer big no deposit bonuses and even bigger deposit and automatic reload bonuses (accompanied by high wagering requirements that had to be met before you could withdraw) but no-deposit bonuses are now largely a thing of the past. The deposit bonuses are not as big as they once were either (to find really big bingo bonuses these days you’ll need to go to a Cozy bingo site) but still worthwhile. The wagering requirements vary from site to site and there does not appear to be a network standard, but they are definitely not as onerous as they once were. One thing to watch with bonuses at Microgaming is that some bingo games are cash only and also there can be a restriction on how many tickets can be bought with bonus.
Microgaming bingo sites always have a full set of the latest Microgaming slots. Although many other bingo sites have at least some Microgaming slots, these tend to be older ones and the new releases do not arrive until months later if at all. With only a couple of exceptions, bingo sites on non Microgaming platforms also lack the progressive jackpot slots.
Ever the innovators, Microgaming developers continue to push the boundaries of online gaming in wild and wacky ways. How about VR bingo? Or bingo on wearable tech? Neither of these ideas is as far fetched as you might think. Microgaming won the prestigious Digital Gaming Innovation of the Year award at the 2015 Global Gaming Awards for their VR roulette game which uses Oculus Rift technology to give the player the experience of sitting at the roulette table. In the same year, they also released the first slot for a smart watch – a version of the classic Thunderstruck.
2020 looked set to be an exciting year for fans of Microgaming bingo as after many delays the product was reportedly going to be rolled out across a well known casino white label network. Not only should that have resulted in greater liquidity and therefore bigger prizes, it should also have resulted in Microgaming bingo being on offer alongside a much bigger range of slots including many from other providers. Not even two months into the year, though, we heard on the grapevine that Microgaming were planning to pull the plug on the bingo product and by Easter that was confirmed. RIP Microgaming bingo!
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