A lasting tradition
The social ties of bingo are well known amongst players and experts. When asked, more than 2 out of 3 players preferred to play bingo for social rather than financial reasons, with the biggest motivation for playing the simple need for enjoyment.
With such a popular fan base, it comes as no surprise that both bingo clubs and local schemes across the UK have placed bingo firmly at the heart of the community. In residential homes and community centres alongside traditional bingo halls, friendships have been created and maintained over daubers and the familiar calls of your standard bingo game.
It seems more and more professionals understand the benefits of bingo, giving the game the official seal of approval as a healthy and beneficial pastime for all ages. A GP in Lancashire placed bingo games at the heart of their community outreach programme for typically house bound patients suffering from low confidence. Such schemes are not just for the benefit of elderly gamers. An initiative in Doncaster used bingo as one of a series of activities designed to bridge the generational gap. Older members of the scheme swapped experiences over pottery classes and bingo games, bringing together pensioners and children to see the common ground they shared.
The proven benefits of playing
If you needed further proof of the joys of bingo, several studies have also shown the positive effects a good old-fashioned game of bingo can provide. Separate studies conducted at the University of Southampton and the Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago noted that engaging in bingo and other similar social activities:
- Boosted the chances of remaining independent.
- Improved players memory capacity at any age
- Increased mental speed and general alertness into old age.
Findings from the Southampton University study found some older players who had been playing bingo for a long time even outclassed younger players due to all the extra mental stimulation.
So it’s clear that bingo can benefit from a medical and social perspective – but what about the changing times? The clampdown on smoking and subsequent ban hit the profits of bingo operators across the country, with out-of-town bingo halls also making access harder for long-standing bingo fans. Numbers of bingo clubs have dwindled, with around 1/3rd of bingo halls forced to shut their doors since 1997, taking the estimated number of clubs from 670 down to 460.
And although some bingo halls have tried to remain true to their roots, other new bingo halls are also keen on enticing new and younger bingo players rather than maintaining their older audience. From late night bingo sessions through to high tech machines, new bingo halls definitely are looking to the future rather than the past.
Cue the rather neat introduction of online bingo. Following the explosion of internet gaming in the mid to late 90’s, the noughties have brought with them a decade of easy access online bingo games that offer an in-home solution for older generations. Online bingo sites have swelled up to some 450 UK facing sites, with more added each month.
Of course, marketing and technological restraints have been keen to focus on the younger appeal of online bingo. According to some surveys, an overwhelming 90% of online bingo players are under the age of 50, with estimates of actual numbers of over-50 players reaching anywhere from 35,000 to 100,000.
Yet in other surveys, it seems that the over-50 crowd actually holds their own, with a survey from bingo portal Bingo Hideout suggesting players aged 46 and over make up a combined total of 36.2% of participants.
Despite the confusing lack of clarity in the demographics, it hasn’t stopped tech-savvy silver surfers logging in and signing up to online bingo sites. Features like autoplay and autobuy simplify online bingo games down to a few clicks, with accessible sign up sheets and deposit instructions contributing to the ease of use. Certain online bingo sites have also been keen to provide how to guides to help players new to the game.
And despite their reluctance to admit the presence of elderly gamers in their midst, online bingo sites have been keen to trumpet tales of older online bingo players scooping big jackpots months after they signed up and started playing online bingo. Stories have included the £1million winning Pauline Clarke, 62; and online bingo site JackpotJoy Bingo has also boasted of two grandmas who walked away with £25,000+ jackpots.
Staying Social With Online Bingo
Interestingly, it seems older internet users are also the most likely to make use of such how to guides and make the most concerted effort to master new web based technologies from social networks to online gaming. According to research from the Pew Internet Group, the take up of older users of social networks went up from 9% to 43% amongst 55 to 64 year olds, with numbers of over 74 year olds using such technology increasing from 4% to 16%. And of course, the trend looks set to increase, as current generations grow increasingly used to Internet and online gaming activity.
In a neat coincidence, it seems many online bingo sites are also injecting a healthy dose of social networking style practices into their product. Long gone are the days of empty chat rooms – dedicated Chat Moderators try to increase the community spirit amongst players and some sites offer private chat features, allowing players to bond in a more relaxed manner.
And operators have also caught on to thinking outside of the chat box, offering up real life meet-ups and online tricks to incorporate more social features into their sites. From the growth of online bingo friendship networks on sites like Wonder Bingo, the use of webcams on sites like BingoCams to the relaxing of bingo style games on existing networks like Facebook, online bingo companies are utilising the newest tech trends to make their brand more appealing to players who seem to be coming from a variety of age groups.
With online bingo projected to continue growth and many claiming the market has yet to reach saturation, there is huge potential – and good reason – for older generations to stay social with online bingo.
Guest article written by: Charlie is a guest contributor from www.onlinebingofinder.co.uk, the only bingo site that lets you search 1000′s of bingo rooms for your ideal game.