For decades, bingo has been a staple event within the community, holding its place among locals as a fun and easy activity that everyone knows how to play. However, outside of raffles and locally hosted events, bingo was on a steep decline across the UK, struggling to modernise to entice a new audience. Bingo halls all over the country closed and people preached the end of the once-popular pastime, but over the last few years, it has somehow managed to claw its way back to being relevant, emerging once again as a popular game but this time in a few different forms.

The massive modernising effort across the bingo industry is yielding major results, from its successful integration into the online gaming space to specialised events which make bingo nights more than sitting in silence dotting numbers. One such event in the UK is Bongo’s Bingo, with the nearest upcoming event to Warrington being up the M6 in Preston. But what is Bongo’s Bingo, and how is a part of an industry-wide initiative to bring bingo back from the brink?

The Bongo’s Bingo event

A promo video of the Bingo’s Bongo event in Manchester in 2017, showing all of the electro-dance music, rave lights, and partying of the occasion, as well as a bit of bingo.

Bongo’s Bingo, ran by Jonny Bongo alongside Sweaty Betty and Peggy, has been designed to bring a new audience to the game of bingo by injecting the antics of a crazy night out. The night features several rounds of bingo throughout the event, but these are set apart with booming music intervals which feature dance-offs, rave intervals, and catwalks. With 90s pop music, cocktails, and beers flowing through, the standard game of bingo has been revamped by Bongo’s Bingo to now be a part of a big night at a club in which people can also win prizes while enjoying some booze and dancing.

Jonny Bongo takes his big bingo event up and down the UK and is sometimes joined by a celebrity guest. So far, the likes of Five, the Vengaboys, S Club, and the almighty David Hasselhoff have come to Bongo’s Bingo. As it stands, you can look for UK events in Birmingham, Blackpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gorleston-on-Sea, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Shrewsbury, Southport, Stoke, Wolverhampton, and the upcoming Bongo’s Bingo in Preston.

Taking place on 24 August 2019, Bongo’s Bingo is coming to Preston Guild Hall, bringing with it the revolutionary new way to play bingo. The event page notably advertises that people can win big cash prizes and s**t prizes as well as take part in awkward dance-offs and enjoy rave intervals. The event has proven to be very popular, with the first two phases of ticket sales selling very quickly, but at the time of writing, there are still tickets available for those who want to try out this modernised bingo night.

Bongo’s Bingo is just one of many examples of why bingo has become relevant and popular once again despite the telltale signs of its demise earlier this decade.

Bingo has evolved to make its comeback

The Financial Times caught up with the president and managing director of Bongo’s Bingo, with the two explaining that it’s all about creating an experience that’s worthy of being shared with peoples’ friends on social media, so they make it into a crazy party with bingo included.

A huge part of bingo’s revival has been down to innovative minds reaching out to the next generation of players. Unfortunately, as explained by the Guardian, traditional bingo was hit hard by the smoking ban, with half of bingo players quitting once the ban came into force, the national lottery, scratch cards, and austerity. The majority of the audience was once 50-plus-year-old women of the working class who smoked – a demographic which dwindled in the bingo halls. Unable to attract the next generation of players due to the stigma of bingo, it quickly declined.

Instead of buying up old bingo halls, giving them a lick of paint, and heavily advertising on social media, new companies were built like Bongo’s Bingo to forge a new way to play the classic game. These rave events which include the word ‘bingo’ in their title have helped to scrub the game of its former stigma by effectively merging bingo gaming with partying and the night club atmosphere. Another brand that has done a similar job is Rebel Bingo, which also tries to make bingo into an exciting social experience through variety performances and a party atmosphere. The idea of Rebel Bingo was born in a church basement, of all places, with the brand claiming that they changed the game forever.

Along with the live events which can be showcased across social media for free to entice the younger audience, another important step for bingo was its true embrace of online gaming, which came very late. Adopting the internet and modernising the offering

An image showing the excitement that people have playing bingo from their computer. It may not be the rave atmosphere of the new bingo events, but it's accessible, fun, and exciting, which encourages people to seek out the live experiences.

The first online casino went live in 1994, but bingo was very late to the game. It took far too long for bingo brands to move online or for new brands to create dedicated bingo websites that offered an interesting range of games that made the most of the scope available through using an online platform. But now, bingo has established itself online by adopting some of the ways of its gambling counterparts – the casinos – to create an offering that online players are used to and enjoy.

One such brand which has been inventive in its approach to modernising bingo is 888 online bingo. The website is filled with a huge range of online bingo games, including 90-ball games, 70-ball games, free games, VIP games, and daily jackpot games, all at varying costs from 0p to 50p for prizes up to £10,000. As well as the bingo games, the Wink opted to incorporate some of the most popular online games, video slots, to enhance the offering for their players, with the likes of Starburst, Shaman’s Dream, and Millionaire Genie proving popular.

Along with the slot games, another key element of other online gambling platforms that the online bingo brand has adapted into their offering is the promotions. All respectable online casinos boast special offers for new players and ongoing promotions. Wink Bingo does the same, with promotions like the Newbies Room and Wink Rewards. The website has invented a modern way to enjoy bingo by incorporating promotions and other popular games to make it more than just a bingo website. In turn, people who enjoy the ease, variety, and accessibility of websites like Wink Bingo will then go on to seek out the live experience.

With enjoyment of the core game established, players will be encouraged to try events like that of Bongo’s Bingo and Rebel Bingo for the social aspects. It has all come together to modernise the game and shed the stigma that bingo once held.