New Bingo Sites 2019
2018 was a bumper year for new bingo sites. As well as many launches of Dragonfish bingo sites using the new No Wagering model and a slew of Jumpman bingo and slot sites on the new version of the Jumpman bingo software, two unique new bingo sites – both completely free of any pesky wagering requirements brought a breath of fresh air to the world of online bingo.
Mr Q – Launched in August, Mr Q is a completely new bingo platform that is British through and through.
Buzz Bingo – Launched at the end of September, Buzz Bingo is Playtech bingo as you’ve never seen it before (and the only bingo site where No Wagering doesn’t also mean No Bonus).
This pair of wonderful new bingo sites is going to be a hard act to follow. So what can we expect from new UK bingo sites in 2019?
- New bingo software & networks
- Resurgence of Microgaming bingo
- Continued rise of No Wagering bingo & slot sites
- Innovative promotions that aren’t just deposit bonuses
- A more adult feel to the games and promotions
- It’s all about the slots
- Mobile play is a game changer
- Ever wider networking
- International expansion?
- Stricter age and identity verification
New bingo software & networks
The two big bingo software launches – by Yggdrasil and Pragmatic Play – that took place at the huge ICE trade show last year are both expected go live at new bingo sites in 2019. Pragmatic Play are reportedly closer to being ready, with their first bingo site just waiting on regulatory approval and a casino white label network also lined up to feature the new bingo product. The Yggdrasil bingo platform is likely to launch in Sweden before the UK.
The Pragmatic Play bingo software is looking particularly good. Pragmatic Play slots appear as minigames inside the bingo rooms and operators can also add slots from other providers as minigames. As with the Virtue Fusion bingo product, there’s a mini lobby option which allows players to play in multiple rooms at the same time without having to go back to the main bingo lobby. Operators can configure rooms to have sliding or mystery jackpots and can give free bingo tickets to players; we expect to see these used as a player incentive or reward. The mobile version of the Pragmatic Play bingo software also looks good.
The Yggdrasil demo we saw was less recent but it looked promising too. One of the most exciting things about it was the option to include bingo in the mission based promotions that run from time to time across the Yggdrasil network. Typically these involve collecting a certain number of wilds, other symbols or bonus features on 3 or 4 different games in the smallest number of spins possible. The idea of having bingo missions such as collecting wins or patterns included in this type of promotion is certainly an intriguing one.
Resurgence of Microgaming bingo
Ever since the regulatory changes back in 2014 it has been difficult for operators to open new Microgaming bingo sites. This is because Microgaming bingo operators need to have their own licence, rather than the type of arrangement seen at Dragonfish bingo sites where all are covered by the 888 UK Limited licence. At the moment there are just three operators with Microgaming bingo sites – 32Red, Betway (Dream Bingo & Bingo on the Box) and Broadway (Rosy Bingo, Butlers Bingo and others).
This is all set to change somewhere in the middle of 2019, because a deal is in the pipeline for Microgaming bingo to be available on one of the white label casino networks (and incidentally, this opens up an exciting possibility – that of having Microgaming bingo alongside non Microgaming slots). A new Microgaming bingo game is also due to be launched soon – a version of 30 ball bingo. If you’ve previously played at a Microgaming bingo site you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how up to date the Microgaming bingo software looks these days.
Continued rise of No Wagering bingo & slot sites
It has been barely two years since the launch of the first No Wagering bingo site (Blighty Bingo) and the first No Wagering slot site (PlayOJO) and both types of No Wagering site have caught on in a big way. With the notable exception of Buzz Bingo, No Wagering sites don’t have bonus offers, instead giving out free bingo tickets for use in specific games or rooms, and free slot spins. In both cases all winnings are paid in cash.
The converse is not necessarily true – there are many new bingo and slot sites that have slot spin offers rather than bonus offers, but still have wagering requirements attached to them. Apart from Buzz Bingo, the last new bingo site to launch with a bingo bonus welcome offer was Quid Bingo back in March 2018.
Innovative promotions that aren’t just deposit bonuses
Players don’t like straightforward deposit bonuses as much as they used to because of wagering requirements. Operators don’t like them as much as they used to either, because they have been landed with paying more and more tax on bonuses they hand out and also because they are now required to ensure that players can withdraw deposited cash at any time. The result is that redeposit bonuses have almost disappeared. New bingo sites such as Dazzle Bingo are still able to have redeposit offers by giving out slot spins and bingo tickets to specific games (with winnings paid in cash) instead of a bonus.
Some operators have been finding different ways to reward and retain players on an ongoing basis as well as to attract them in the first place. One of the most radical is that seen at Sky Bingo and Sky Vegas, where the loyalty scheme has been replaced with a free game that can be played every day; the prizes are small bonuses none of which have more than a single playthrough requirement and all of which come first in the play order. At Kitty Bingo there’s also a new free daily game, Catford Square, that resembles a board game.
More common than redeposit bonuses are stake and get promotions. These award a bonus (or sometimes cash or free spins) after a player completes a certain amount of cash play.
A more adult feel to the games and promotions
A couple of years ago bingo site promotions pages seemed to be wall to wall cuddly toys, fairytale characters and other childish things. Operators are now not allowed to show this kind of imagery publicly – they are supposed to age gate it so as not to encourage children to gamble. For example, a prominent casino recently got in trouble when they tried to publicise a slot game based on a well-known series of children’s books. An easier solution for operators is to avoid promotions with child appeal in the first place – so if running a promotion on Eyecon slots, that would mean using say Beat the Bobbies or Stampede instead of Fluffy (and for Eyecon, producing more adult looking slot games in future).
As 2019 begins, there are still lots of free spins offers for Fluffy and its sequels at new bingo sites, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see this changing as well as the crackdown continues.
It’s all about the slots
Bingo operators now understand very well that many players enjoy slots and will be disappointed in a new bingo site that doesn’t have a varied and frequently updated selection. Gone are the days of not getting new slot game titles for a couple of months after release.
Indeed, it seems that there are now quite a few players who are mainly interested in slots and just like to play a bit of bingo on the side. The new wave of Jumpman bingo sites are well suited to this type of player, offering slots from cult game providers like Elk and Big Time Gaming which haven’t previously been easy to find at UK bingo sites – but with bingo rooms that rarely have more than a handful of players and often not even that.
Other operators are also getting in on this strategy; the selection of slots at Cozy bingo sites now is a very far cry from when most of them just had Cozy proprietary slots and the pinnacle of excitement was the few which had half a dozen Microgaming slots. New owners GVC clearly have their fingers on the pulse, as new games by the likes of Pragmatic Play, Yggdrasil and Big Time Gaming have been added, along with Mega Moolah and other progressive jackpots.
Mobile play is a game changer
We can see from our own visitor stats that more and more of you are playing bingo and slots on mobile and some never play on any other device – and that means that the way people play is evolving.
A player on a bingo site via a mobile device is highly likely to be doing something else at the same time – watching TV, chatting, or even just paying attention so as not to miss getting off the bus at the right stop. This means that mobile content needs to be snackable i.e. delivered in bite size chunks. A single bingo game is about the right length for that and so are a few slot spins.
The problem with playing bingo on mobile, though, is that if there is only a short window before the game starts in which to buy tickets, the player can easily get distracted or hit a data blackspot and miss it – and that’s why there is such a big difference in how busy the bingo rooms are at sites with a fully featured pre-buy (Virtue Fusion, Relax Gaming, Gamesys. Microgaming) compared to sites without (Cozy, Jumpman, Dragonfish). With pre-buy, a player can buy tickets for a number of games in one go then dip in and out of the action – and the chat – at will.
Dip in and out of the chat, that is, if chat is easy to use on a mobile – but in some cases it isn’t, or there isn’t any chat. We believe that removing the chat is very off-putting for bingo players and that mobile players still want to chat – but perhaps not as often or as long as desktop players. Mobile bingo players may also not want to participate in or be subjected to the sort of chat game that makes the chat go crazy with everyone answering at once.
Pragmatic Play clearly understand all this as their product is set to have both prebuy and mobile chat.
The move towards mobile play also affects the design of the bingo games themselves and we expect to see more new bingo games like Buzz Bingo Blast and Tombola Blocks, where players have just one ticket to keep track of and play is super fast.
Ever wider networking
Jumpman, Cozy and Dragonfish all started the year powering multiple bingo networks, but this is rapidly changing.
All Jumpman bingo and slot sites now share the same bingo rooms – the two bingo networks have been replaced by a single new one which has also been extended to all the slot sites, and the main difference between Jumpman bingo sites and Jumpman slot sites lies in whether they have the word “bingo” in the name.
Back in the mists of time there were several Cozy bingo networks including the Fun Bingo Network and the Winners Bingo Network. By 2014 there were just two – the Live Bingo Network and the Best Bingo Network, plus the standalone Game Village, the first site on the Lucky Duck network. The Live Bingo Network and Best Bingo Network are now indistinguishable from each other – they have exactly the same bingo rooms, welcome offer, promotions and chat (or rather lack of it). The Lucky Duck sites also now have almost all of the same bingo rooms with just a couple that are different.
Cozy have gone one further than that though (or rather their owner GVC has). The huge player base of Foxy Bingo (and a couple of sister sites) has been added to the Cozy network, vastly increasing the liquidity in the network rooms (Foxy also has some non-network bingo rooms). Unless you count the Foxy migration, NO new Cozy bingo sites were opened during 2018 and the Cozy platform no longer seems to be available as a white label option so we do not expect any new Cozy bingo sites to be launched in 2019 either. On the contrary, we expect many Cozy sites either to close or migrate to a different platform like Tea Time Bingo did.
Dragonfish took a big step towards wider networking early in 2018 when they got rid of a number of monthly fixed jackpot games from the Dragonfish network and replaced them with weekly ones. The new weekly games – and the mystery jackpots room that was subsequently added – are shared across multiple networks, just like the Big Fat 10 and 90s Extreme rooms that were added earlier. It now appears to be possible to pick and mix rooms across different Dragonfish networks and some manifestations of this are:
So why do bingo sites do this? The answer is to increase liquidity. As the number of players goes up, the prizes start to look much more attractive and this brings even more players into the bingo rooms. Of course, the chance of actually winning something goes down proportionately. Essentially, the bingo becomes high variance which makes it much more exciting as the prizes can be substantial, but as players of high variance bingo win so rarely, it comes as no surprise that they like to play slots as well.
Going back to the news about Yggdrasil, Pragmatic Play and Microgaming bingo products, working with white label casinos will give them instant liquidity which bodes well. New bingo sites on these three platforms will bring a much wider choice for players back into the market, possibly even including bingo bonus offers.
The UK is not the only nation that loves its bingo – it’s also extremely popular in Sweden (there’s even a type of 75 ball bingo that is called Swedish Bingo). Until now, Sweden has been what is called a grey market but now, Swedish regulation of gambling sites is here (from 1st January 2019). Bingo operators need either to obtain a Swedish licence (as several already have) or exit the Swedish market. This could result in an increase in player numbers and liquidity for bingo rooms such as those at Relax Gaming bingo sites which can be accessed by Swedish players. However, any existing players from Sweden will have to sign up all over again at the regulated version of the site they have been playing at. Because the terms of the Swedish licence mean players can only be offered a bonus when they sign up and not later on, the Swedish versions of bingo sites will have to be kept separate to the international versions.
Stricter age & identity verification
This is something that is definitely coming in May 2019 and it will apply to new players on any UK licensed site. Previously, players were often only required to prove their identity when they tried to withdraw but now, bingo sites (along with casinos and all other betting sites) will have to verify age and identity of a new player before they are allowed to deposit or play any games – including free to play and demo games – and that could mean sending in copies of documents such as passports and driving licences. This is bound to change the way in which players use no deposit bingo offers and newbie free bingo rooms as there will be more of a commitment involved. We may well find that new bingo sites move away from these types of offer.