The public smoking ban could see bingo players moving en masse to the web, according to research by white label gaming firm St. Minver.
The company found 60% of the 2667 British internet bingo players it interviewed smoke, well above the national average of 29%. But mobile companies aren’t set to cash in on the ban, with 95% of respondents saying they aren’t interested in playing games on their phones.
“The big issue for bingo clubs is that the ban will eat into their admissions massively,” said Leigh Nissim, MD of St. Minver. “People will be moving away from the bingo halls to playing online.”
Rank Group, which owns Mecca bingo halls, recently said it expects takings from clubs in England and Wales to fall by about 14% when the move happens next May. At the same time, several retailers and ISPs are thought to be preparing a move into internet bingo, which is estimated to have over 1 million players in the UK.
According to St. Minver, bingo sites have been experiencing compound growth in usage of between 10% and 25% each month, helped by bigger jackpots and prizes.
The research discovered that almost half of online bingo players use chatrooms during a game, and many see them as a better opportunity to socialise than clubs.
But under 5% want to play bingo on mobiles. “We’ve seen absolutely no evidence of a propensity among bingo players for mobile gaming,” Nissim said. “It’s very questionable how far mobile gaming will penetrate.”
The research found four in five online bingo players are female, and most are between 25 and 45. Sites are also popular among people with night jobs, such as security guards.
Over 78% of players have children, while popular pastimes include camping and caravanning. Tesco and Asda are their supermarkets of choice, while the Sun and the News of the World are their favourite national newspapers.
Four in ten also play bingo offline at least once a month.