Online bingo – an unusual way to make friends?

The online bingo game shows no signs of declining in popularity.  The people behind these sites are quick to keep up with technology and trends to ensure that they continue to attract and retain as many customers as possible.  The main demographic of consumers for online bingo are female and the reasons they play are not the gratification of winning, but the opportunity to network socially with likeminded people.  The organisers have capitalised on this and introduced chat rooms, networking sites and even webcams to facilitate this trend.

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A survey run by Virgin Bingo found that 44% of its players had made friends by playing the online bingo game.  This has resulted in 18% meeting up in person and 34% believing that playing the game has improved their social life.  In fact four players took this one step further and even formed romantic relationships!

Historically people visited bingo halls to play the game but also because of the social aspect.  However at present, people are time poor thanks to the recession, longer working hours and family commitments.  Therefore online bingo is accessible to anyone with a PC, laptop and internet access at any time of the day, which makes for a more convenient way to play.  Furthermore, some of the customer base are completely housebound due to medical reasons, therefore they cite online bingo as a great relief to them to be have to have some kind of social interaction.

Most people interact via online bingo chat rooms.  They are accessible by being a member of that particular bingo organisation and the player can choose to be anonymous or interact.  Players chat to each other about personal things as well as the game and build relationships as time passes.

The online bingo industry has recognised that socialising is one of the main attractions of the game and has been quick to replicate social networking technology such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype to encourage this aspect of the game.  This trend is set to continue with the evolution of technology where virtual online bingo sites will become the norm.  This means that players can chat, eat, drink and even buy each other virtual gifts!  There is even discussion around partnerships with beverage companies so that it will become possible for fellow gamers to purchase food or drink and send it to a fellow gamer.

Online bingo is cited as more of a way to make friends than it actually is to do with winning the jackpot.  Thanks to its accessibility it is a great way for people to meet and interact with likeminded fellow gamers.  This has already been the reason behind some great real life friendships and even romances!  As the digital world continues to revolutionise the way we communicate, the trend for making friends through the online bingo game looks set to continue.

Gamble Aware (www.gambleaware.co.uk) is managed by the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, an independent charity which funds treatment, research and education about responsible gambling. The website has been developed by a Task Force made up of representatives from the Gambling Commission, DCMS, academia and industry.

Gary Beal

3 thoughts on “Online bingo – an unusual way to make friends?

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