It sounded like a dream journalistic assignment – I was asked by my boss to discover if it was possible to play online bingo for a living. I’m a huge fan of the game: I eat, sleep, breathe and dream it – when I close my eyes to sleep, instead of counting sheep, I mark numbers off on my winning card. My husband isn’t impressed when I start screaming HOUSE in my sleep though.
And if poker players can play for a living; indeed, some have a very profitable lifestyle, travelling the world and living in the lap of luxury; why can’t a humble online bingo player?
The challenge was set.
My boss would stop my wages, relieve me of all duties, except for one – to play online bingo for a whole month. Surely it couldn’t be that difficult to rack up a couple of magnificent wins, enough to pay the mortgage, car repayments, and bills? And who knows, maybe I’d even have enough left over for a Caribbean holiday?
So, I sat down at my computer on a Monday morning, and joined up to several sites, each offering impressive no deposit bonuses. After all, I was starting with absolutely zero cash in my bank account. Gulp. I had two computers on the go, an iPhone and iPad, so I was able to play at four sites simultaneously. The first pitfall was the infernal racket from the different number callers. Mute button please!
I maxed out each time, and pre-bought as much as I could. Fairly soon, the wins started coming in, and I quickly ploughed my winnings back into more tickets. By the end of the first morning, I’d won an impressive £13 – not enough to pay the gas bill, but I was pleased with my results.
But by mid afternoon, I’d not called house once, and by the end of the day, I only had £16.47 in my multiple accounts, none of which I could withdraw, because of the wagering requirements. Plus, I had a migraine from staring at four screens all day.
The next day I took a different tactic – I bought as many cards as I could, for as cheaply as possible. Would it be better for me to concentrate on smaller, more frequent wins?
Gradually, the money started to trickle in, and by the end of the second day, I had won another £7 – barely enough to cover my sandwich and cup of coffee from the canteen.
On the third day, I decided to splash out, and start concentrating on some of the big money games. I bought cards for sliding jackpot games and I bought cards for progressive jackpot games, most of them priced between 50p and £2 – expensive, or what?
I watched my bank account dwindle with dismay – surely a big win would come soon? I carried on for the next week in this manner, and I’m disappointed to say, I soon ran out of cash.
Dreams of jacking in my job and a jet set lifestyle disappeared, as I faced the reality – it really isn’t possible to play online bingo for a living. And that’s because the numbers are utterly stacked against you. Unlike poker, bingo is a game of pure chance – the outcome of each game is determined by a Random Number Generator – a sophisticated computer that spews out numbers and cards in a totally random manner.
No player is favoured more than any other, and a poker face certainly won’t work against this complex machine. And although the chance to of winning a small amount is fairly reasonable, the chance of hitting that multi-million pound jackpot is vanishingly small.
Into the second week, the dread set in. I joined up to more sites to take advantage of their bonuses, but the wins still came to no more than a couple of quid each day. One day I did win £50, which at the time seemed like a fortune. But then I sat down and calculated my hourly rate across the two weeks, to discover that I was earning little more than 35p per hour. Slave labour indeed.
By this point, I was noticing something else – I was getting well and truly addicted to the game. I was making careless wagers, losing sleep, and betting more than I could afford to lose – the classic signs of addiction. I knew it was time to stop. I returned back to my boss, cap in hand, and asked to be taken off the assignment.
I conclude that it is not possible to play online bingo for a living, and that you would be mad to try. As with all forms of gambling, bingo is nothing but entertainment, and not a way to make profit. So don’t even try it.
Still, at least I’ve stopped shouting ‘house’ in my sleep.