Although online bingo is a relatively recent occurrence (with bingo culture being fairly slow to develop an online game), a fairly large number of sites have sprung up in recent years to cater for demand in the US market. In the early stages there were more sites catering to a US audience, however, following the passing of legislation that makes it difficult for sites to provide services for US citizens, many of these sites have closed down or now only provide gaming services to UK and European players. Some sites do continue to provide bingo games accessible by US players, however, and most of these sites are included in the reviews in this category.
This buying guide is intended to give a general overview of the things players should look for when they are thinking about joining an online bingo site. While this buying guide only ever gives general advice, it is hoped that this, coupled with the site-specific reviews, will answer any questions our readers may have about the sort of service and features they should expect at these sites.
Online v. Traditional “In House” Bingo
Bingo is, without a doubt, one of the world’s best-loved games. As with many pastimes and forms of entertainment, the internet has opened up bingo to a new and growing audience. While many bingo veterans may find the idea of online bingo a little difficult to grasp at first, many of our readers will (and should!) be keen to enjoy the best that the leaders of this new market has to offer.
The main difference between online bingo and its traditional ‘in-house’ counterpart is the absence of a ‘bingo hall’ in which the game takes place. Apart from this, players pretty much play the game as they would in ‘real life’. Players select the game they wish to play, buy in to the game by purchasing a bingo card and ‘dab off’ the numbers as they are called to see if they have won. While many of these processes can be automated if desired, players can still in the most part enjoy bingo games in the same way as they would in a traditional bingo house.
Points of Note
Many of the sites we review in this category offer or include a number of common features. To help you to know what to look out for as you read the reviews and surf around the sites, we have included the most important features you will find here, along with a helpful brief description of what to expect:
Range of Games
One of the major upsides of the development of online bingo is that the technology facilitates the development of more interesting and inventive games. Although many of the bingo sites we have reviewed in this category provide ‘basic’ style bingo games, almost all of these sites also provide a number of themed games, 75-ball bingo games, 80 and 90-ball bingo games.
In addition to bingo games, many of the sites in this category also provide large collections of casino games, instant wins and more to help keep members excited and interested by membership of individual sites. Readers should check out individual reviews to find out what is on offer at respective games.
As with traditional bingo games, players can only ever play bingo when the caller is drawing numbers. Unlike traditional bingo games, however, more than one game can take place at once at the same site and players can engage with more than one game at a time. Similarly, online bingo also differs from regular bingo games in that with online bingo, there is no downtime – bingo can be played 24/7 by members all over the world.
As there are so many games happening at any one time, there is a need for a complex system of scheduling so that players know exactly when games are starting and how to buy into them. Members should look out for sites that have scheduling systems that are both easy to follow and simple to use.
Free Bingo Games
Although most bingo games hosted by the sites we have reviewed here are accompanied by a nominal charge (and as a result provide players with the opportunity to play for a substantial cash prize), there are sites that offer some or all of its bingo games free of charge.
Normally, these are either available at certain times of the day or for a limited period each week, although there are sites that offer free bingo 100% of the time. Even though it’s unlikely that players are going to come across million-dollar prizes in free bingo games, they are both fun and exciting to play, and quite often provide a cash prize of some kind.
Promotions & Welcome Bonuses
As with other categories we have reviewed (such as poker sites and casino sites) one of the major points of difference and competition between sites in this category is the availability of promotions and bonuses offered both at the point of joining and throughout the duration of membership.
The availability of generous bonuses will undoubtedly be a draw for many members, especially at sites where the bonuses are ongoing regardless of the size or frequency of deposit. Check out our reviews for all of the sites we have covered in this category for detailed information on what each site has to offer in this respect.
Additional & Community Features
As well as a range of games, promotions and bonuses, members should also look out for sites that offer a broader range of features. Many sites offer additional features such as blogs, forums, messageboards and chatrooms to encourage the development of a community on the site. Similarly, many sites also offer users a range of informative articles, a range of great banking and transfer methods and many more useful features.
Although most of our readers will view these features as having secondary importance, many online bingo players are just as interested in getting to know other players as they are in playing the games on offer. Check out details of these features in our individual reviews for more information on what each site has to offer.
Customer Support & Responsible Gambling Advice
Although this particular section isn’t the most exciting, the level of support offered to members of any online bingo site is an important consideration. Members should look out for sites that offer extensive user FAQs to help players solve common issues themselves, as well as interactive customer support (by telephone, email, live chat or online form) to give dedicated support to those users experiencing more complex issues.
Finally, members should also look out for sites that offer features intended to ensure that all members gamble responsibly and are aware of the dangers posed by gambling abuse. All of these features are considered in our site-specific reviews.
The Bottom Line
As with all of the sites we review at No.1 Reviews, the final decision as to which site to choose is down to the individual users. When choosing which site is best for you, we suggest members balance the range of games and features on offer against the availability of bonuses and promotional funds.
Members should also check out what existing members have to say about the site and the sort of atmosphere that exists there. All of these issues are covered in the site-specific reviews. Check out each one and follow the links to check out the sites for real to find out which one is perfect for you.