Bingo in 2017: Where are New Markets Opening Up?

When thinking bingo, some people's minds might well flit instantly to the rather outdated notion of bingo as it used to be: played in slightly tatty, rundown bingo halls. This is a seriously outdated notion, however, since bingo is, in 2017, one of the most popular forms of online gaming. And more and more people are realizing that and getting on board.

Bingo would already be ranked as the sixth biggest sport in the UK were it to be technically labeled a sport, but the notion of bingo becoming a global hit in an age of new games and online technology still seems a little surprising.

However, there are suggestions that bingo is not only truly on the up in the world of iGaming in the UK, but also on a global scale. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Dreams of Africa

The idea of Africa leading the way with iGaming may seem fanciful given that, just a year ago, a Guardian article suggested that only 20% of the population across the continent had access to mobile broadband technology. However, perhaps what this stat highlights is that the rate of growth once this coverage increases could be incredible and way beyond our current comprehension.

The volume of smartphones being sold in Africa had been increasing until the economic turbulence of late 2016 and early 2017, helping to reaffirm feature phones as the most used phones on the continent. Overall trends suggest that by 2020 there will be over 800 million smartphones in use from the likes of Apple, which is more than the number currently in use in the whole of North America.

"Samsung entry-level smartphones" (CC BY 2.0) by Meraj Chhaya

What we know about smartphone usage is that the features that people love are those relating to the ability to be sociable, and one particularly fun way to engage in socializing through a smartphone is thanks to iGaming, with bingo a particularly engaging way of talking to other people while playing and gaming. In the more "developed" part of the world, the iGaming industry has grown through the continued responses to technology that have arisen, with gamers already enjoying the rewards of social gaming. In Africa, where communities and friends can span vast distances, this is likely to become a particularly good way to stay social, with online bingo offering a way for people to enjoy down time without having to worry about complex rules and tactics.

On top of all this, a recent ICE Totally Gaming seminar looked at the fact that regulation and commercial success in iGaming is already on the up in sub-Saharan Africa in key markets for growth like Nigeria and Ghana, further highlighting that the world is starting to take notice of the potential for growth in this market.

Time to Step into India?

India has been a tough market for iGaming due to strict laws and regulations that have prevented its growth, even though there is clearly a huge market and appetite for iGaming in the second most populated country on earth.

Two Smiles - Pune, India" (CC BY 2.0) by Ian D. Keating

Despite these previous frustrations, India is potentially on the verge of a great breakthrough when it comes to the iGaming revolution. This is because regulations and red tape are finally on the cusp of being removed to allow for a huge market of people to finally enjoy the world of iGaming, with licenses for iGaming already being granted in the province of Sikkim.

The decision to start the progress of legalizing betting and gambling is one that is clearly overdue in India, and should not only help to kickstart the growth in this industry, but also satisfy the demand that is clearly there, showcasing the fact that the Indian market is one that is worth a fortune to companies able and willing to tap into it.

Growth in these countries and other developing markets where iGaming is not currently making a huge impact is going to be a game-changing development for the industry as a whole. Perhaps what is more fascinating is if the growth in the market will really be based on the social aspects of gaming, something which really would see bingo fast emerge as the face of the potential iGaming revolution.