A Typical Bingo Site
Before a discussion takes place about the reasons why so many bingo sites offer slots, first an overview of what a typical bingo site looks like is required.
Clearly, the majority of an online bingo site is dedicated to providing a place to play a whole range of bingo games. There will typically be many rooms (up to 16 or more) with bingo games playing throughout the day every day. There is normally a schedule provided which players can consult to find a game that suits their budget, interest and desired prize or jackpot.
In addition to the large section of bingo, there will often be a section for slots. How prominent this section will be can vary – sometimes sites will have it on the menu, others won’t promote it as much and just have slot game icons on the homepage. One site is a notable exception – tombola. They do not offer slots games, although they do have other games to play.
What Are Online Slots?
An online slot is basically a virtual version of the fruit machines found in establishments such as casinos and pubs. Slots games can be played on desktop, mobile and tablet, so slots have become increasingly mobile. Whatever device is used, generally the types of slot games available are either three reel (as seen with the traditional fruit machines), or five reel.
Three reel slot games will usually have just one winning payline, with scatter symbols, wild symbols and bonus feature symbols being very rare sights. Many video slots have five reels and from between 10 to 100 paylines. Sometimes five reel slots won’t have paylines at all, but instead 243 different ways of winning. They usually contain the full range of symbols, and so there are more chances of getting winning combinations to win money.
A common feature in online slots are bonus games – these help the slots player feel like they’re not just spinning the reels endlessly and possibly spinning their way through a lot of money very quickly. Bonus games can return many times the original bet of a player, and if a player is lucky they can win back any losses from the main game.
Reasons for Slots on Bingo Sites
We may see how online bingo sites have followed the trends favoured by online casino sites, and taken advantage of the methods they use to attract and retain players. Gainsbury notes in Internet Gambling: Current Research Findings and Implications that: “Games with short playing times, such as slots, appear to generate the majority of money for online casino providers as more games can be played per unit of time (Church-Sanders 2010).
So the fundamental reason that online bingo sites also offer slots is that slots are significantly more lucrative for the site than bingo is.
To capitalise on this fact, online bingo sites will often have new player bingo offers that also involve free spins, bonuses and cashback on slots. Psychologically speaking, this is the ideal way to get bingo players interested in slots – there is nothing to lose by taking up an offer that potentially gives you free play on both bingo and slots.
Having slots on a bingo site also takes advantage of the ‘dead time’ that a bingo player will have when they are waiting for a bingo game they want to participate in to become available. Whilst the site is making a certain percentage amount of profit from bingo games, they can at the same time also make a profit on the money spent on slots by those bingo players not in a bingo game at that point. Even more lucrative for many bingos site is that a player can play a slots game whilst also playing a game of bingo.
Online bingo sites are also aware of the fact that playing exclusively bingo on every bingo player’s visit to a site may occasionally (or eventually) lead to a certain amount of boredom, and they will be tempted to try something different.
Both bingo and slots are essentially games of complete chance. This means those attracted to bingo for this reason would logically also be drawn to playing slots. Neither slots nor bingo require any real level of skill either – another similarity between the two that could explain the use of their relationship on online bingo sites.
There is more psychology at work behind the scenes when considering why bingo sites also offer slot games. In comparison to online bingo, slots are extremely fast-paced and therefore it is easier for the bingo player to lose track of how much money they are spending on a slot game. Although it may be rather unpalatable, online bingo sites want to maximise the amount of money players spend on their site – even if that essentially means they encourage games where the player is much more likely to lose large amounts of their money trying to win them.
On the whole, there are large numbers of bingo players that don’t ever cash out. This lack of interest in financial gain would support research that winning money isn’t the primary motivation for most bingo players.
How Do Sites Encourage Slots Play?
As mentioned previously, bingo sites will use almost a hidden way of encouraging slots play. They will often include free spins on selected slots in their welcome package to new players. As a result the player has nothing to lose in trying out a few slots games out of curiosity, if nothing else.
Again, it has been discussed how slot games can be used by the bingo player to relieve boredom or merely give them something to do whilst waiting for a bingo game to start.
Many sites offer a programme of benefits from becoming a regular player of slots, as well as bingo. For example, some may offer tournaments, cash back bonuses and free trials.
Slots really are great fun to play, especially while waiting around for a “Bingo!” call. Just be careful you don’t go cash crazy, or these thrilling, fast-paced games will eat away at your wallet in no time at all. In short, slot machines are where the money is in online gambling. Every bingo site knows this and wants you to spend, spend, spend away. Play smart, play safe; bet a cheeky tenner on the slots here and there, but don’t bite off more than you can chew, or the slots will shake you down for all you’ve got!
 Gainsbury, S. 2012: Internet Gambling: Current Research Findings and Implications: Springer New York Heidelberg Dordrecht London, p.17.