The past twelve months were a phenomenal year for new bingo sites in the UK. There are now more than 400 bingo sites available in the UK to choose from, and many more are set to follow closely behind joining some of the most established networks. Below is a list of some of the newest bingo sites which are regulated by official gambling authorities for safe use.
Major changes in online bingo
Some major game-changers were introduced in recent years improving and altering our experience of online bingo. The most major positive change came from the introduction of HTML5 to almost all bingo brands, meaning each site is now far more responsive on mobile devices on both Android and iOS devices. This has bridged the gap between mobile gameplay and desktop gameplay meaning there are now fewer discrepancies between each choice, with more mobile users able to access games on the go. Now, as new technology such as the Smart Watch and even more advanced smartphones launch, we might find ourselves with completely new ways to play on new bingo sites over the next couple of years. And, perhaps, one day, we’ll be able to play online bingo using virtual reality mobile headsets or Google Glass technology.
The other big factor was the introduction of the new Point of Consumption Tax (POC) as part of new Gambling and Advertising laws in the UK. This basically means that sites with an operational base outside the UK will still have to pay tax on profits generated by any UK based players. So from now on, any bets from UK customers will be charged with the Remote Gaming Duty (RGD) of 15%. There have been many debates about how this will affect the industry as a whole, with claims of sites closing down or withdrawing from the market. However the laws only came into force in November and December so it looks like any effects will be felt later in the year. Whilst it may be a loss for overseas bingo brands, we could see many more UK based new bingo sites popping up.
The new UK Gambling and Advertising laws saw another key change in how existing and new bingo sites operate. From late last year onwards, sites must be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission even if they are based abroad in locations such as Malta, Alderney, Gibraltar, and the Isle of Man. You can check if a site holds a UK license by scrolling to the very bottom of its homepage. N.B., it’s not uncommon for operators to be regulated and licensed by more than one gambling authority, e.g. the UK Gambling Commission and the Gibraltar Gambling Commission.
In early 2016, the IGRG (Industry Group Responsible for Gambling) made several amendments to its code that affect how gambling operators can advertise on television. The most notable change is that sign-up offers encouraging people to sign up at new bingo sites are no longer allowed pre-watershed (i.e. before 9pm). However, bingo and sports betting advertisements are currently excluded from these changes, although both existing and new brands must still adhere to strict guidelines when creating adverts for television, radio, and in print by making sure they include “18+” and a socially responsible gambling message.
The Advertising Standards Authority is the UK’s independent regulator for all media advertising, and in the last few years, have continued to see the ASA crackdown on operators who breach its CAP code. In recent years, the ASA has ruled against several well-known operators who have (in its eyes) published misleading adverts and banners on websites, television, and print publications, and the Authority is notoriously strict about bingo brands clearly referencing wagering requirements for sign-up offers and promotions, as well as including more in-depth information regarding their terms and conditions. As the Advertising Standards Authority acts on complaints from members of the public, any operator that breaches its CAP code is liable to receive negative press, and this is something that new bingo sites should be mindful of.
No More Cartoon Characters
A letter from the Gambling Commission, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Committee of Advertising Practice, and the Remote Gambling Association changed the gambling landscape overnight. Gambling operators were informed that adverts displayed on their websites or in third party media that are likely to appeal to children or under 18s had to be amended or removed. The letter was clear that the use of animals, colours, youth-orientated references and cartoon and comic book images and names such as Fluffy Favourites, Piggy Payout and Jack and the Beanstalk are likely to enhance appeal to under 18s. In order to avoid heavy sanctions, most operators had to change their logo and make sure that access to the aforementioned and other games were restricted to real money customers. At least the latest bingo sites don’t have to go through the same hassle.
What else can we look forward to?
Although those are the most major changes set to have the biggest impact on new sites over the next year, there are plenty of other changes and improvements we can still look forward to.
No deposit sites – The trend towards no deposit bingo grew steadily in the last 12 months and we can anticipate more of the same for the year ahead. No deposit sites are bingo brands which offer players a free amount of money just for joining and creating an account, with no need to put any of your own cash into the site first. The amount of free cash awarded usually starts at £5 but the latest figures show new no deposit sites offering as much as £20 or even more in some instances. Having said that, in recent years, the number of such sites has diminished considerably. Nowadays, instead of offering a no bonus deal, they prefer to award customers with free spins once they have met certain playing requirements.
Casinos – In the last few months alone, we’ve seen a number of network operators diversifying into the world of online casino games. While many well-established sites and new bingo sites offer their members a sizeable selection of side games, slots, scratch cards, and casino games, their owners seem to be realising that it’s hard to provide players with a truly diverse and extension range of both bingo games and casino games. Hence, a new trend appears to be emerging which encourages players to ‘follow’ their favourite bingo brands as they venture into the brave, new world of online casinos. By signing-up at the operator’s new online casino, players can still remain a part of their preferred bingo community and feel close to the brand while also broadening their horizons and gaining access to more games and prizes.
Social media promotion – Most bingo brands now have their own Facebook and Twitter pages where fans can interact and enjoy more bingo fun. However as free just for fun social bingo apps become more and more popular, we will see existing bingo sites using social media in new ways to help combat this and keep our interest with them. For example, some operators now offer their social media followers free game cards in return for following their accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Plus, in a similar fashion to the chat games you often encounter on bingo sites, several brands run exclusive social media competitions that include quiz questions, caption competitions, and photo contests that allow participants to win loyalty points and BBz. You can expect more competitions, bonuses and exclusive social media only offers in the coming year.
Games – with new sites comes new games too! Some new brands introduced 50 ball bingo into the fold whilst we also saw the launch of the all-new video bingo game. The latter is a hybrid between slot games and online bingo, offering an innovative new take on our favourite online games. In the coming year we may see more of this great innovation alongside better quality, 3D and HD games for both mobile and desktop with genres and styles we’ve never played before.
Closing Thoughts – A New Era for New Bingo Sites
In all fairness, while the last few years have been challenging for everyone involved in the gambling industry, the changes were long overdue. You can clearly see that all new bingo sites have grown by leaps and bounds taking the industry to a higher level. Long gone are the days of all the unregulated brands that couldn’t deliver on their promises or failed to process withdrawals. This is a new era that we are happy to be part of.