Joining the Cyber Revolution - How Bingo Landed in the 21st Century

The game of bingo has been played in the United Kingdom for not just decades, but centuries. It's popularity reached its peak in this country in the 1970s as community associations, charities and church groups all established their own regular games. However, this esteem was not to last forever, as the 1990s saw a massive drop in bingo admissions. Suddenly the game looked on the way out, until online bingo came along to pick up the pieces, mend them and send them hurtling into the new millennium.

Many reasons have been suggested for bingo's apparent demise, chief of which was the game's image. Abruptly it was no longer seen as a game for all, but rather the bastion of the blue rinse brigade. Admittedly, its popularity amongst the older generation did not wane, but it was failing to attract new audiences - a key requirement for any successful business. The major bingo providers realised this and began a comprehensive marketing campaign that included advertising on television and radio, in literature and online.

Bingo providers also recognised the need for modernisation within the game itself. Given the nature of bingo, no real overhaul of the rules or the functioning could take place without changing the game completely, which would risk losing traditional players. Walking this tightrope, it was decided that the best method of doing this would be to bring the language of bingo up to date. Again, though, some of the names of balls are considered an institution, meaning that selectivity was the key.

It is to this end that online bingo has helped to steer bingo bang on trend. With increasing numbers of people becoming computer-literate and the widespread use of "text speak" a new, modern language could be created. Dubbed "bingo lingo, the abbreviated speak allows players to commune easily online during the fast-paced games. The lingo is extremely varied, ranging from simple things like "GLA" (Good Luck All) to more complicated sayings such as "WYSIWYG" (What You See Is What You Get).

It is this last that has played the largest part in the subsequent revival, as numbers playing bingo both online and in clubs now hover around the 3.5 million mark. Somewhat ironically, as this increase in online bingo players has transported the game into the 21st Century, the numbers heading out to play "normal" bingo have also increased. With the Chancellor of the Exchequer's recent announcement that he is to reduce the tax on the industry from 22% to 20%, the clubs can afford to drop prices, which should drive even more people through the doors. All in all, it is good news for the game, which has recovered from a severe slump and now is looking towards the future.