Which Bingo Sites Are The Best To Play At And Why
What To Look For In An Online Bingo Site
- Welcome Offer
- Exclusive Rooms vs Network Rooms
- Range of Games
- Fairness and Transparency
- Player Promotions
- Treatment of VIPs
- Small Print
- The X Factor
A good welcome offer does not necessarily mean the biggest bonus. In fact, the majority of new bingo sites that launch these days do so with welcome offers that do not include any bonus at all and several older sites are moving away from traditional bonus offers as well, instead giving out slot spins or free bingo tickets (or giving the player the opportunity to win them in a game of chance). Many also have newbie rooms with free bingo.
The Best New Bingo Sites view on this type of welcome offer is that it’s great and can actually be superior to a traditional welcome bonus offer – but only if the winnings are paid in cash with no wagering requirements. (Slot spins with the winnings paid as a slot bonus, or free bingo with the winnings paid as a bingo bonus, don’t cut it in our opinion).
Nor are welcome offers everything. Some of the best bingo sites out there in terms of player experience have rather underwhelming welcome offers (perhaps they take the view that it is better to put resources into keeping their existing players happy)
Liquidity is something that you may not have come across before, but in bingo (not slots) it is very important.
Liquidity is the amount of cash in the system – or across the network, in the case of a networked bingo room. A bingo room with a large number of players has good liquidity meaning that the prizes can be substantial. A site (or network) with poor liquidity will have quiet bingo rooms with dismally small prizes and since this is very unattractive to players, it’s likely to go into a decline and get quieter and quieter – a bit like a club night that hasn’t managed to attract a critical mass of partygoers.
Too many players can also be a problem, though, as the chance of actually winning anything in a room with thousands of players is very small. A good bingo site will manage increases in liquidity in its exclusive bingo rooms by increasing the number of bingo rooms and/or adding more prizes such as Roll Ons or 1TG/2TG, to give players more opportunities to win. One of the best bingo sites to win on is Mecca Bingo. They have all the big money Virtue Fusion network prizes so there’s the chance of winning hundreds or thousands of pounds, but they also have BOB (aka Best Odds Bingo) where no more than 25 players are allowed per game. Play BOB for an hour and you’ll have a 72% chance of winning at least one full house.
Exclusive Rooms vs Network Rooms
The more exclusive bingo rooms a site has, the better able it is to manage liquidity – whereas operators have very little control over networked rooms. At one end of the scale you have Cozy or Dragonfish skin sites with networked rooms only and at the other end you have Tombola with no networked rooms. Most bingo sites are somewhere in between and the best ones combine a number of network rooms with big prize money (sometimes including other networks as well as other sites on the same network) with some exclusive rooms offering smaller but more frequent wins (Sun Bingo is a good example of this type of arrangement, with the exclusive rooms helpfully shown in a separate tab in the lobby).
Exclusive bingo rooms also usually have exclusive chat whereas network rooms may not.
Range of games
The clear winners here are Playtech bingo sites, and Tombola. Both go far beyond the usual offerings of 75 and 90 ball bingo in the range of bingo games on offer. Tombola has 50 ball, 60 ball, 80 ball, Cinco, Pulse, Rollercoaster, Blocks and Lucky 7. Playtech sites have Deal Or No Deal Bingo, Rainbow Riches Bingo, Cash Cubes Bingo and Age of the Gods Bingo – and many Playtech sites also have exclusive bingo games including BOB and Burst Bingo at Mecca Bingo, Winning Headlines and Brit 50 Bingo at Sun Bingo, and Coconut Island, Hot House Bingo and several TV themed variants at Gala Bingo.
Bingo sites which are on the same network do not necessarily have the same range of slot games. For instance, some Cozy bingo sites have Microgaming slots but many do not. Playtech sites vary widely in the slots they offer – all have Virtue Fusion slots such as Clover Rollover and Eyecon slots such as Fluffy Favourites but some have little else, whereas big Playtech sites either offer a much bigger range of slots in situ – like Mecca Bingo – or have a slot games section elsewhere on site that can be played with the same wallet as bingo, like the Arcade at Betfair.
The best bingo sites have a wide range of both bingo and slot games.
In our opinion the two most important factors for usability are the following:
- Ease of use across all devices – here’s where having an Apple or Android app makes a difference
- Pre-buy facilities. Playtech do well here, with tickets available to purchase up to a week in advance – but so do Gamesys, Relax Gaming. and the newcomer, Pragmatic Play.
Fairness and transparency
One thing that can be done in the interests of fairness is to set a low maximum number of tickets per player (often done) or limit the number of players that are allowed into a bingo room (as at Tombola and mFortune where they have many rooms open concurrently, or more recently at Mecca Bingo with BOB).
As far as transparency goes, in our opinion the clear winners are the Relax Gaming bingo sites Unibet Bingo and Bingo.com – the only platform where players can see which other players have 1TG or 2TG (and which numbers they need) while the game is going on.
Some bingo players like to chat while they play and others don’t. Our view is that the quality of the chat hosting is important even to those who don’t.
- Chat hosts can help players to find out about promotions and resolve problems
- Chat hosts can run chat games, where players can answer trivia and other questions to win bonus or other prizes
- A lively community encourages players to keep coming back and playing and this helps keep the liquidity (and therefore prize money) up
- In our view, bingo sites which have their own dedicated chat hosts – either across their entire site or in their exclusive bingo rooms – stand out from sites that only have network chat and this is especially true when the chat hosts are native English speakers with lively personalities and a good knowledge of UK popular culture
- Accessibility and usability of the chat on mobile devices is also really important
It is generally a good sign when a site has won awards, especially if
- They are voted for by the players – even though there have been several instances of sites offering players a bonus to encourage them to vote, it still indicates that the players must be pretty happy with the site
- They are judged by an independent panel of experts – as is usually the case for fair play, customer service or social responsibility awards
The best bingo sites have something new or free for existing players to do several times a week or even every day. This need not involve running a series of different promotions, although it often does. A daily bonus game (as found at Heart Bingo where there is a choice of three or Tombola where there is more than £30,000 to be won every week) or daily free spins (as found at Real Bingo Network sites including Bingo Besties) can be just as enjoyable for players.
Quality as well as quantity is very important when it comes to promotions, and when it comes to raffles and other giveaways, it makes a big difference whether or not the promotion is networked. Although there have been some excellent networked giveaways in the past they have involved some very large prizes to balance out the huge number of participants (the Playtech £1 million escalator jackpots promotion is one that springs to mind).
Finally there is the amount of imagination and ingenuity that goes into selecting the prizes. While everyone likes to win cash, the really memorable prizes are the ones that money can’t buy such as VIP experiences (or the opportunity for your pet to appear in an episode of Emmerdale, as was done at Gala Bingo).
Treatment of VIPs
Quite simply, the best bingo sites have a bespoke VIP scheme with exclusive events and promotions for VIPs by invitation only. They don’t specify what you have to do to qualify to be a VIP and that’s partly because the criteria are flexible and partly to protect the privacy of existing VIPs.
No-one likes to find unpleasant surprises lurking in the small print (or not so small print, following the crackdown on misleading advertising) and the best bingo sites avoid having any of these nasties:
- Caps on winnings
- Excessive wagering requirements
- Long processing times or fees on withdrawals
- Long lists of games that are excluded from bonus play or don’t count towards wagering requirements
- Short time limits on bonuses that cannot be used until the player runs out of cash
The X Factor
Think about it and you’ll realise that for a bingo site, liquidity underlies everything.
What all of the other things on this list do, is encourage players to sign up to and keep playing at the site that gets them right. The more players that do that, the better the liquidity gets – and the better liquidity itself encourages more players as the prize money gets bigger and the site gets livelier.
So basically, a good bingo site attracts lots of players because it is a good bingo site, and becomes an even better bingo site because it attracts lots of players – which in turn, attracts more players.