Back in July, Entain‘s flagship bingo site Gala Bingo migrated from the extremely well known and popular Virtue Fusion bingo platform on to Entain’s own bingo product, joining the previously migrated Coral Bingo and Ladbrokes Bingo and also the ex Dragonfish bingo sites Foxy Bingo and Cheeky Bingo. Two months on from the move, how’s that going?
Immediately after the move, Gala Bingo looked rather different to other Entain bingo sites and, dare we say it, much more like a Virtue Fusion site. The roster of bingo rooms included Entain recreations of Virtue Fusion classics and Gala exclusives, showing the lengths to which they went to try and keep existing players happy:
- Deal Or No Deal Bingo – the 75 and 90 ball versions of the much loved Deal Or No Deal Bingo game were both launched at all Entain sites the week Gala moved. It plays like the Virtue Fusion version but the theming is from the US version of the show, replacing the famous red boxes with gold briefcases.
- Fluffy Favourites Bingo – Entain’s version of the Fluffy Favourites bingo game had been launched some time previously and bears little resemblance to the Virtue Fusion 90 ball game; it’s a 36 ball game a bit like Virtue Fusion’s Cash Cubes.
- Bingo Beats – Entain’s Bingo Beats game is a reasonably faithful recreation of the Gala exclusive 50 ball, single ticket multi stake game.
- Coronation Street Bingo – the Entain version retains the Golden Cobbles jackpot but without the accompanying themed games such as the Roy’s Rolls scratchcard and without all the video clips.
- TV Specials – this Gala exclusive room runs 90 ball games themed on The Chase and Emmerdale. Again, the bonus games remain in the Entain version but without some of the extras.
- Coconut Island – the Entain version of this 50 ball room lost pretty well all of the theming in translation.
- Session Bingo – although at first look it appears that there might be 4 sessions a day at the new Gala Bingo, there’s just the Main Event with a different feature every evening.
What the new bingo schedule at Gala didn’t include – and still doesn’t – is any Entain specials that wouldn’t work as a direct replacement for a Virtue Fusion bingo room. 30 ball bingo was added as a replacement for the speed 90 ball room, but there’s no FRIENDS™ Bingo, no Fab Grab Bingo, no Cash Out Bingo and no £18K Sliding Bingo.
Now, however, it seems that some of the Gala exclusive bingo rooms are being rolled out to other Entain sites.
It’s been evident for some time that player numbers at Gala are not what they were and this is hardly a surprise as whenever a bingo site moves to different software, it’s inevitable that some players are not going to like it. The very large size of the player base at Gala meant that they could afford to lose a few players who preferred Virtue Fusion without it having too much of an impact, especially as a number of bingo rooms were connected up to other Entain sites right away to keep liquidity up (for example, the Castle bingo room at Gala is the same as No Fox Given at Foxy Bingo and it’s always heaving).
Once the number of players in a bingo room drops too far, though, it starts to go into a tailspin; bingo rooms are a bit like club nights in that they need a critical mass of players to keep up the atmosphere (and in the case of bingo rooms, the prize money). While the networked Castle and Metropolis 90 ball rooms have been holding up very well with hundreds of players buying tickets and the new Deal Or No Deal rooms are doing OK, some of the other Gala rooms have been looking just a bit too much on the quiet side recently, especially during the daytime when there may be only 10-20 players around in the non networked rooms. The decision to network them more widely and bring in more players is understandable.
As to which rooms and which sites, currently the two Bingo Beats rooms have made an appearance at Foxy Bingo and Cheeky Bingo while Coronation Street Bingo has been rolled out to Coral Bingo and Ladbrokes Bingo, and this has had an immediate positive effect on player numbers.
What next, we wonder? Will other Gala exclusive rooms that are currently rather lacking in players and atmosphere – TV Specials and Coconut Island are the ones that come to mind – also appear at Entain’s other sites? Conversely, will Gala finally get the rest of the Entain specials? Or will Entain try to preserve Gala’s distinct identity and not turn it into a Foxy clone?
Gala’s new Boss Benefits promotion hints at the former. It’s a rewards scheme that gives players access to more than 100 online and in store discounts and to qualify and remain a member you need to have deposited and played through £80 in the last 28 days, recalculated every Monday. That’s an average of £20 a week, which doesn’t sound like much, but over the course of a year it’s more than £1000 – very indicative of Entain’s desire to position Gala as a premium bingo brand.
UPDATE: On 1st October 2021 a further roll-out of Gala rooms to other Entain sites took place. Ladbrokes got Bingo Beats, Coral got TV Specials, and Foxy and Cheeky got Coronation Street.