Citation Stead M, Dobbie F, Angus K, Purves R, Reith G & MacDonald L (2016) The Online Bingo Boom in the UK: A Qualitative Examination of Its Appeal. PLoS ONE, 11 (5), Art. No.: e0154763. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0154763
Abstract Online bingo has seen significant growth in recent years. This study sought to increase understanding of this growth by exploring the appeal of online bingo. Our aim was to examine the content of ten online bingo websites in the UK and analyse a qualitative secondary dataset of 12 female bingo players to investigate the appeal of online bingo. Using two distinct data sources allowed us to assess how the key messages online websites are trying to convey compare with actual players' motivation to play bingo. Our analysis of bingo websites found a common theme where websites were easy to navigate and structured to present a light-hearted, fun, reassuring, social image of gambling. In addition, the design decisions reflected in the bingo sites had the effect of positioning online bingo as a benign, child-like, homely, women-friendly, social activity. Comparison of the website content with our participants' reasons to play bingo showed congruence between the strategies used by the bingo websites and the motivations of bingo players themselves and the benefits which they seek; suggesting that bingo websites strive to replicate and update the sociability of traditional bingo halls. Online bingo differs from traditional forms of bingo in its ability to be played anywhere and at any time, and its capacity to offer a deeply immersive experience. The potential for this type of online immersion in gambling to lead to harm is only just being investigated and further research is required to understand how the industry is regulated, as well as the effects of online bingo on individual gambling ‘careers'.