With a history that dates all the way back to the 1500s, it is no surprise to discover that bingo remains a hugely popular pastime in many countries around the world.
Bingo originates from the Italian lottery, Il Gioco del Lotto d’Italia, which was a popular game played every weekend by friends and family across the country.
The game subsequently spread to France, before finding its way to the United Kingdom and other parts of the world during the 18th century.
Bingo in India is more commonly known as Tambola, although the basic constructs of the game remain the same.
Read on as we take a closer look at why bingo is so popular with people in the UK and assess some of the main issues that India has faced in matching its success.
A Working-Class Phenomenon
Although bingo took quite a while to take off in the UK, it eventually exploded into a cultural entertainment phenomenon after the Second World War.
The collapse of the cinema sector during the 1950s was the catalyst for bingo to cross firmly into the mainstream over the next few decades.
Bingo halls popped up in towns and cities across the country, particularly in the northern regions where it became the ‘go-to’ social activity for millions of people.
However, its working-class image eventually became a millstone around bingo’s neck as people turned to much ‘trendier’ social activities before the turn of the millennium.
Technology Sparks Bingo Revival
The creation of the internet radically changed the online gaming landscape in the UK, sparking a huge rise in revenues in the sector during the 21st century.
Bingo operators have leveraged advancements in technology to their advantage by developing online sites that have transformed the way different games are played.
Brands like Wink Bingo have worked extremely hard to appeal to an entirely different demographic, and those efforts have paid off in some style.
Millions of new players quickly latched on to online bingo, but in an ever-evolving environment, new challenges soon sprung up.
Mobile Tech Takes Things Up a Notch
Consumer habits have rapidly shifted over the past few years, with the majority of changes coming as a result of significant improvements in mobile tech.
Much like Filofax organizers were the ‘must-have’ item of the 1980s, most people would be lost without their smartphones in the modern era.
From a gaming perspective, mobile devices have proved to be a Godsend as they provide players with much easier access to their favorite games.
This factor has helped to drive even more growth for online bingo operators in the UK, and the trend is likely to continue for many more years to come.
Recreating the social side
The social element that made bingo so popular in land-based venues in the UK has not been lost, with most leading operators incorporating this into their sites.
Modern tech has allowed companies to provide chatroom facilities alongside different games, effectively recreating the social side of bingo.
This provides a platform for players to meet up with friends, family, or like-minded individuals in a relaxing and friendly environment to chat and play.
Some sites also offer players the chance to win additional prizes in the chatrooms, further ramping up the appeal of playing bingo online.
Legislation Impacts Indian Bingo
Many people in India love playing bingo and other types of games, but they are generally forced to use offshore sites to indulge their passion.
The Indian government has traditionally frowned upon most forms of gambling, with horse racing and lotteries the main two betting types that are allowed.
Officials in India have long argued that gambling causes a rise in crime, although regulation of the practice has been proven to work in other jurisdictions around the world.
As things stand, the Information Technology Act 2000 does not specifically mention gambling, which leaves the interpretation of its legality up to individual courts.
Bingo Through the Back Door
While Indian gaming operators currently have their hands tied behind their backs, offshore firms are not hampered by the same restrictions.
The only legal requirement placed on firms offering bingo games is they must offer rupees as a payment method for all Indian players.
Numerous politicians have repeatedly been lobbying for changes to the legislation, arguing that the country is losing huge amounts of tax revenues on an annual basis.
The legal situation does make it very tricky for players in India to enjoy bingo, and it remains to be seen whether the government will let the brakes off in the future.
Viewing Figures Highlight Bingo’s Potential in India
Although Indian people have had heavy restrictions placed on their gambling activities, that has not stopped them following the UK’s lead in falling in love with bingo.
That point was perfectly highlighted by the game show ‘National Bingo Night’, which broke records for television viewership ratings when it was aired.
Presented by Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan, the figures highlighted the huge appeal of bingo with people across India.
That popularity goes a long way to explaining why so many players are visiting offshore bingo sites to play this iconic game.
Improving Health Through Bingo
Regardless of where you live in the world, the sheer simplicity of bingo has played a key role in helping to establish it as a mainstream activity.
However, research has also shown that the game has the power to not only improve cognitive capabilities but can also stave off the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
That is a particularly pertinent point for India, with more than four million people currently estimated to be living with some form of dementia there.
On that basis, relaxing the laws around online gambling in India would make plenty of sense from both an economic and health perspective.
Bingo and the Short-Term Future
Bingo has undoubtedly shrugged off its working-class image in the UK to once again become firmly established as a bonafide entertainment activity.
The growth of online sites actually sparked a big resurgence in land-based play, with innovative versions of bingo further transforming the way the game is played.
Rave-style bingo, drag bingo, and bingo cruises are amongst the numerous ways the sector has benefited from people engaging with the game online.
Restrictive legislation and cultural differences make things much tougher in India, and the country is likely to lag behind the UK in the bingo stakes for the foreseeable future.
The Long-Term Future of Bingo
While players in India impatiently await a relaxation in gaming laws, people in the UK are eagerly anticipating further exciting future developments.
Virtual reality (VR) is expected to be the next big thing, with developers already plotting ways the tech can be used to revolutionize bingo.
The prospect of being able to immerse players into an entirely different setting with VR is an enticing one and is a factor that will drive further revenue growth.
Whatever the long-term future may hold, it seems fair to assume that the popularity of bingo will continue to endure for many years to come.