Online Bingo: New Jersey’s Next Internet Gambling Craze?
This year, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission began granting operating licenses to websites offering bingo games.
The first company to take the state up on this offer was Virgin Casino, a UK-based online gaming company that partnered with Tropicana Atlantic City to provide the real-money games to New Jersey players.
The games will be offered every day from 10 AM to 11 PM EST. In a press release, Tropicana stated that it will pay out $90,000 in bonus money prizes to bingo players every month. In addition to the games that require a deposit and pay out real money, Tropicana is also offering a free version at free90ballbingo.com.
Bingo Games Offered
Bingo games come in many formats. Currently, Virgin Casino is offering 90 ball bingo games to New Jersey players. This bingo format differs from the format that most Americans are familiar with playing, which is used for 75 ball bingo. The 90 ball bingo format is popular with players in the United Kingdom.
90 ball bingo games are popular online, but less so in physical bingo rooms. On the cards used for 90 ball bingo games, there are nine columns and three rows that intersect. There are three stages to every game: one line, two line, and full house.
Other types of bingo that may be offered in the future include 80 ball bingo and the well-known 75 ball bingo.
75 Ball Bingo
75 ball bingo is the most popular type of bingo game in the United States. This format has the traditional board set up with five columns in a grid formation with five rows across. The square in the middle of the board is generally reserved as the free space. Many different bingo games can be played on this board, including the traditional version where a player must get five matches in a row in any direction.
Round robin: In this format, the player must match all the numbers around the perimeter of his or her board, creating a border.
Block of nine: In a block of nine bingo game, the player must match any nine numbers arranged in a block of three rows of three numbers each anywhere on the board. The result is a solid block of numbers marked off.
Four corners: In four corners bingo, a player must mark off the four corner boxes on his or her board to win.
80 Ball Bingo
The type of board on which 80 ball bingo is played is slightly smaller than the one used for 75 ball bingo games. It has a total of sixteen squares in a four column by four row pattern. This makes for a more rapidly paced bingo game.
The History of Online Bingo Games
Online bingo has been popular with gamblers in the United States, United Kingdom, and throughout the world since 1996. Because of restrictions against playing for real money online, these games were free to play and winners were awarded with tokens or points. Some popular early online bingo sites were Bingo Zone and Bingo Blitz, the latter of which can now be played on Facebook.
Concerns of Cannibalizing Brick and Mortar Bingo Games
Bingo is a very popular way for churches and other charitable organizations like the Knights of Columbus and The Elks to raise money. Some critics have expressed concern that allowing real money bingo games to be played online could hurt turnout at physical bingo games.
This argument is not unlike the concern that internet gambling would destroy traditional casino gambling that first arose when New Jersey’s first online casinos opened. As we saw over the next year, profits at both physical and online casinos lagged. By the end of the year, online gambling revenue was up again while brick and mortar casinos continued to perform poorly. Time will only tell if online bingo will affect traditional bingo halls in New Jersey, but there’s one thing bingo halls have that casinos do not: a sense of community. Casinos are spacious, noisy, and located in destination centers like Atlantic City and the Poconos. Bingo games happen in churches and community centers where a regular player might see her neighbors and friends every week for years. In this type of setting, there’s a closeness that no website can replicate.
Attracting Women to Online Gambling
Gender plays an interesting role in our gambling habits. Traditionally, card games like poker and blackjack were played in taverns, which were almost exclusively filled with men. This also went for betting on horse races, another older form of gambling.
By the time games like bingo and the lottery became mainstream in America, women and men enjoyed similar levels of social freedom. Games that require some use of skill and strategy like poker tend to attract men, while purely chance-based activities like slots and bingo tend to be more popular with women. One hypothesis about this latter fact is that women prefer games and activities that easily lend themselves to socializing and the sharing of mutual interests. When you’re sitting at a slot machine in a long row or gathered in a bingo hall, it’s easy to strike up conversation with your neighbor and express excitement when he or she wins.
Online casino operators are hoping to cash in on the relative lack of female internet gamblers by offering bingo games. The bingo games for points and credit that have been available for years are more popular with women than with men, which should be a good sign for companies wanting to get in on the opportunity to provide online bingo games in New Jersey.