Bingo is not always thought of as one of the more traditional casino games or ways of gambling, but the fact is that the online bingo industry is the fourth biggest industry in the UK when it comes to online gambling. The world of online bingo is huge, and though it doesn’t perhaps have the same reputation as poker or roulette, the fact is there is an enormous amount of money in the industry.
Let’s look at how bingo has reached the amazing heights it is at today, starting from the beginning of its history in the UK.
The Rise of Bingo
Over the course of the first half of the 20th Century, bingo slowly began to make a name for itself. It was a popular local game with many people, simple and easy to learn, and fast-paced and fun. Though it came to be more associated with the elderly, from the beginning it was popular with all age groups.
Then, in 1963, the government passed the Betting, Gaming, and Lotteries Act. This made bingo a legal form of betting, and its popularity skyrocketed almost overnight. Suddenly, huge bingo halls were opening across the country, giving people a great chance to have fun and win money at the same time. By 1983, there were at least 1,600 bingo spots around the country.
At the height of its popularity in the 1960s, everyone played bingo. Young and old, everyone enjoyed the game. Over the next few decades, the popularity did slowly decline among a broad-brush demographic of people, but it maintained its popularity with the elderly.
Then, with the advent of online bingo, its popularity saw a huge revival. Once again, all age groups were playing, and now from the comfort of their own home. Let’s look at the state of bingo today.
Today, bingo is more popular than ever—and this is reflected in the industry’s revenue. Changes to the rules around taxes in the 1990s had meant that the game was not as feasible or profitable. Then, in 2014, the bingo tax was reduced to only 10%. This was the final piece in the revival of the popularity of the game.
Even before these tax laws were changed, in the tax year 2009-10, the overall revenue of the bingo industry was £1.34 billion. For an industry that was not deemed to be in the prime position to make a great profit, this is a huge number.
As of 2018, bingo is the fourth most popular form of gambling in the U.K. And gambling is itself very popular here; surveys which ask people whether they have gambled in the last four weeks found that 47% of British people responded that they had. This gives you an idea of how many people must be playing online bingo—the only more popular forms of betting are the National Lottery, scratch cards, and sports betting as a whole. According to another survey, 24.7% of all gamblers say they enjoy bingo.
In 2018, bingo held a 3% share in the whole gambling market. Physical bingo halls still only make up 4.7%, so online bingo and the plentiful selection of UK bingo websites are rapidly catching up to physical bingo.
Though the actual revenue in recent years has not been as high as in other years (2018-19 saw around £1 billion), the industry is certainly growing. The problem has in some ways been the oversaturation of the market with online bingo games—there are over 200 now, and this is down considerably from past years.
So, in a way, this decline in revenue is more of a streamlining of the industry—weak competitors are being stamped out. Naturally, the revenue of the industry will fall somewhat in these circumstances, but the overwhelming likelihood is that earnings will continue to grow as fewer companies dominate the market.
In simple terms, the online bingo industry is by far one of the biggest online gambling markets in the U.K.. Worth over £1 billion pounds a year, there’s no reason to suspect the downturn will continue, but that the market will continue to grow.
Bingo’s place in the economy
Aside from just providing many of us with great games to play, this enormous amount of revenue means that the industry contributes a huge amount to the economy overall. When we talk about contributions to the economy, we mean simply changes in a local economy which can be explained by one company or industry.
Bingo as a whole generates more income every year than massive streaming platforms like Spotify and Netflix combined, and a report from 2019 estimated that around 5.6 million Brits play bingo online regularly.
In terms of direct taxation, in the tax year 2019-20, the bingo industry contributed almost £31 million pounds to the national economy. For a single type of online betting, this is really quite a staggering amount.
It is certainly not surprising to most that online gambling generates a lot of money for the economy. But the sheer size of the bingo industry alone is enough to surprise most people, so it really is worth pointing out just how much the bingo industry gives back to the country in taxes. Online bingo provides a great and fun game, without doubt, but they also give back to us economically.
So, to wrap up, there’s no overstating just how significant a player the online bingo industry is in the gambling sector—indeed, in the country’s economy as a whole. Bingo is naturally very popular, and that popularity has led to enormous profits over the years, and thus in turn enormous tax revenue. It’s no surprise that the market has been so overwhelmed with so many online bingo games—when others can see the massive success being had by established bingo companies, it’s only natural for them to want a piece of it themselves.