The £60m buyout of Wink Bingo by 888 earlier this month is further proof of the growing importance of Bingo in the online gaming sector.
With 888 following in the footsteps of PartyGaming, who bought Foxy Bingo operators Cashcade for £71m in July, bingo is clearly big business in the realm of egaming, where it has become one of the four ‘key product verticals’, along with poker, casino and sportbetting.
Much like virtual gaming, the last two years have seen an enormous growth in online bingo with new operators emerging to challenge the established egaming order.
And with the bingo sector estimated to be worth approximately £1 billion worldwide operators have reacted by throwing vast sums of money at marketing campaigns to promote their brands, acquisition strategies and the investment in technology to develop new and ever more appealing bingo offerings.
But 888 and PartyGaming’s latest manoeuvrings also suggest that the major players are prepared to flex their muscles by taking out the smaller players. Jim Ryan, the CEO of PartyGaming said this week that along with the boost in poker revenues one of the main reasons he is confident about strong fourth quarter results is due to bingo. “Bingo continues to show substantial growth on the back of the CashCade acquisition in July of 2009,” he said.
So as the big brands compete with the likes of Gala and Mecca Bingo they are slowly turning themselves into bingo supermarkets – which is an ominous development for the more modest corner shop-type sites.
Anyone whose new year’s resolution has been to set up a new bingo site should probably think again then as it seems as though it is probably too late to come to the table now. 2010 looks destined to be the preserve of 888 Ladies, Wink, Mecca and Gala, while the smaller brands will either fade away or get swallowed up by the big fish.
As for the bingo players themselves, whether the diminishing choice will see a reduction in value and quality remains to be seen but they can at least hold out hope that big bingo will translate into even bigger prizes.