October 22, 2009 07:55 ET

Bingo for Nothing-What's the Catch With Free Bingo?

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Oct. 22, 2009) -

Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this Press Release.

In the face of the credit crunch and as more players turn to online bingo, operators are starting to offer more and more free games on their sites. But is having a bingo fling for nothing actually worth it? And what effects will the offer of 'free bingo no deposit' have on the bingo community at large?

The recent introduction of Cheeky Bingo as the first site offering free bingo with real prizes seems to have sparked a trend in online bingo in the UK. Sites are now clamoring to get on board this attractive offer, which sees players flocking to get their hands on free money for nothing. Posh Bingo, Costa Bingo, Sun Bingo, Wink Bingo and even the major player Gala Bingo have all recently introduced free bingo offerings. With Cheeky Bingo winning the Best Innovation award for its "Free to Play, Win for Real" model, how far can free bingo actually go, and can everyone actually be a winner?

Cheeky Bingo began as a bit of a standout in the market. When a site offers free bingo, it is sending a message that it is new, exciting and offers something a little bit different. Obviously the free bingo games offer no catch for a player- you play for nothing, and stand to win a prize. No risk or chance of losing at all. And for the sites, which will also offer a range of funded games, the idea of attracting new customers will always appeal, especially as the popularity of online bingo grows and with it, the number of sites. Making yours memorable is always key, and what could be more memorable than money for nothing?

Sites go about free bingo in two ways currently – no obligation free games, and those which require a player to be funded to participate. With the first option, what you see is what you get. The second means you must have money in your account to play these free games. It still remains to be seen which will be the most popular solution. But in both cases, prizes will be low, sidelining the importance of the free bingo game.

In this sense, bingo operators offer free bingo as another treat for their players. And this is an important fact to remember: online bingo has always been about the freebies. Sites will offer huge deposit bonuses and cashback options on losses, special prizes and loyalty points which equate to free cards in games, so the idea of giving something away to their players is not new. Free bingo games are just another way for a site to grab your attention, and reward you for being a loyal member of their community. As the popularity of free bingo rooms grows, it will be worthwhile to remember that free bingo rooms will become more and more populated, meaning a greater chance of the jackpot being nabbed by someone else.

And as more sites clamber onto the free bingo bandwagon, one thing that will remain is the jackpot sizes in these games. Money jackpots in free bingo are always relatively small, the maximum being around Pounds Sterling 50 in most cases. If you are looking for a big win, you still need to step into the bigger rooms, where you will have to be a funded player and will have to purchase cards. No bingo operator will ever offer a solely free bingo site- and if you want the serious wins, it's unlikely you'll get them for nothing.

However what the free to win model does do is enrich a players experience, and is a great way of building a loyal customer base. Since its launch in February 2009, Cheeky have already garnered a 6% share of the UK Bingo Market- no mean feat when compared to some older operators. This is because as well as it's free bingo rooms (which have doubled in number to support demand), it also offers big jackpots in other games. Bingo playing online is becoming more and more about a whole experience – how the chat rooms are, the range of games on offer, even side games like instant win slots – all of these aspects combine to build a reputation for an individual site.

In this sense, what the free to win model does do is build loyalty and discourage the bounty hunters that are just about deposit bonuses and nothing else. By keeping jackpots low, the free win to games are about the bingo itself, meaning these are always lively, fun, and a great way of introducing yourself to the online bingo world. You may not win much, or win at all, but who cares when you aren't paying anything? And if you find you like bingo, then why not move on to the bigger jackpots?

Many people will be keeping an eye on how the free to win model evolves. But what will always remain is that when played as part of a bigger online bingo experience, a free bingo fling now and then seems to be the perfect solution- for everyone.

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