What Fuels Bingo's Popularity?

By Ben Hamill - November 24 2015


I was asked recently at a gathering of friends to expand on the overall popularity of bingo. The questioner made it clear that she wasn't specifically referring to bingo the children's game or bingo the online gambling game. Nor did she have in mind bingo at bingo centres for good charitable causes. She meant very specifically, why bingo can be enjoyed just for itself whereas all the other games that can be played at a casino can only be truly enjoyed if the player has money riding on the outcome.

Play for Free Before Playing for Pay

I will first touch upon her assumption that casino games can only be enjoyed if the player has made a bet. Many casinos offer so many games that players play in the casino's free mode in order to become more familiar with the games before placing a bet. In this sense, playing the game for free is pleasurable as a learning process pursuant to making bets on the game in future.


It is abundantly clear that all casino games become boring very quickly if the player doesn't have a financial stake in the outcome. The same is the case for bingo payed online. After a few games, if I don't have a bet going, the game becomes duller than a butter knife!

Nevertheless, I fully understand my friend's question and I agree with her overall premise: that bingo is fun in and of itself.


Bingo is a social game. At birthday parties, the winners get prizes but the prizes are usually toys or games that the winners can and do share with their friends. We're not talking about expensive vacations or household appliances. We're

talking about trucks or dolls or board games or puzzles that everyone can play and enjoy.

In this context, bingo is a conduit to group pleasure. All the kids at a birthday party understand this instinctively. They know that they are "in competition" for a prize but they also know that they will invite their friends over to play with their "prize" many times. The prize will soon become just another toy or game that the kids play with at one of their friends' house.

There are many games adults play in a group of friends. Many people never play bingo as a social game amongst adults. Yet, I suspect that few would say that an evening of tipsy bingo wouldn't be fun!

Casino games played in a friend's basement can be 99% fun and 1% competition for money, too. But no one would spend several hours playing blackjack or poker without having some money on the line.

Online Bingo Can't Be Fun Without Money

Now we get to bingo played online, at land-based casinos, and at bingo centers.

When we play online, we have to have money on the game. I don't like to cook, hate following recipes. But I do like to have friends over. When I invite people over, I whip something up quickly. No hot kitchens for me! But if I was playing bingo online without money at stake, I would gladly close down the bingo game and go watch a cooking show! I am sure, without having any statistics to back me up, that most women are like me. They would leave the bingo and watch football with their husbands! They'd turn off the bingo and go back to reading War and Peace. No matter how you spin it, online bingo with no money on the outcome is boring!

Men may not be quite as quick to shut off the bingo and go shopping with their wives for drapes but eventually the dullness of the moneyless bingo game would get to them, too.

Bingo at Land-based Casinos

Next we come to bingo at land-based casinos. The atmosphere at a casino is exciting. Casinos thrive on giving the illusion that players are winning, which they aren't for the most part. It's fine by me to go to a casino ready to lose a small, affordable sum. To me, that's a perfectly acceptable form of entertainment. You could go to the casino prepared to lose a small sum and go home a winner. It happens every day! The excitement that's in the air comes from people betting on the outcomes of games. Even a small bet turns an otherwise dull game into something palpably exciting! But no one can deny that a very large measure of the excitement in a casino is the sense that money is riding on every outcome.

The Crème de la Crème of Bingo

Finally, we get to bingo played at bingo centres. There are many bingo centres that encourage heavy betting but even then the betting is not high roller style. Instead a bingo player may buy more tickets than they can easily handle. Few players lose the mortgage money at a bingo centre.

If you've been following my blog these past few months, you know that we've come, finally, to the point where I extol the virtues of charitable bingo. What other game would keep our attention for such a long period of time as we play it for a good cause?

Bingo asks nothing of us other than the commitment to having fun. Casino games are always tugging at us to put more on the line. While we can also put more on the line for bingo, the game itself makes no such demand. Bingo's message first and foremost is fun.

For that reason we have so many variations of bingo. The card is so simple; just replace numbers with symbols, cheeky comments, pictures or photos—in short, anything and you can call it bingo.

The best use of the variability of bingo is to raise money for good causes. So, play bingo to your heart's content. I just urge you as strongly as I can to play for others. The game will be just as much fun and, if you play for others, you will go home feeling like a winner, every time!