Is Online Bingo Fixed?

One thing that might put you off playing online bingo is the thought that it could be fixed. Nobody wants to be scammed but is there any truth in it? The forums are full of people complaining about games being fixed but it’s usually just sore losers who can’t understand why they haven’t won.

The UK has one of the strictest licensing and regulation systems in the world but despite this many people still, have their doubts. To be fair you can’t really blame them because unlike traditional land-based bingo halls, you can’t see the balls, the other players or how the numbers are generated so you have to put your trust in the hands of the bingo operators. Easier said than done, right?

UK Gambling Commission

The UK Gambling Act 2005 states that all bingo sites offering gambling services to UK players must be licensed. If the site is based in the UK then it has to be licensed by the Gambling Commission but if it operates from elsewhere it must be licensed through one of the whitelisted gambling jurisdictions.

Licenses aren’t handed out willy-nilly. Before a bingo site is granted one, they must go through stringent checks which include looking at the software to ensure the games are fair.

By law, bingo sites must display their licensing information so when you’re looking for somewhere to play you should look out for this information to make sure the site is legitimate. You can normally find this at the bottom of the homepage on the footer.

UK bingo sites are also regulated by the Gambling Commission. It’s their job to keep a regular check on sites to make sure they comply with license conditions and codes of practice.

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Random Number Generators

If you think online bingo sites fix their games so that certain numbers come up you couldn’t be more wrong. All UK bingo sites use RNG (Random Number Generators) to guarantee fairness. To give you extra peace of mind these are tested by third party bodies such as eCogra or iTech Labs which is part of the licensing requirements.

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Reputation

Online reputation should be one of the factors you use to determine what sites are worthy of joining. So, how can you tell if a bingo site is reputable? First of all, they should be transparent and publish information about how the games are run, the RTPs, banking policies and so forth. Most importantly they should follow their own policies. They should also have a good reputation within the online bingo community so keep your ear to the ground and check out forums and reviews.

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The Heavy Depositor Effect

We always hear the old comments about ‘the same people win all the time’ and ‘only the big spenders ever win’. It’s true…some players win more than others but that has nothing to do with any ‘rigging’. The reality of it is that these players are probably buying the maximum number of tickets for every single game which is why they are winning more than you.

The heavy depositor effect is widespread and it’s a huge disadvantage to players on a tight bingo budget. However, don’t let this put you off playing because many online bingo sites offer games where the maximum number of cards allowed is capped quite low. For example, Gala Bingo has a room where you can’t play with more than 12 cards which isn’t bad. There’s also the popular mobile game Cash Cubes by Virtue Fusion where everyone is allowed just one card each. That might not sound like much fun but there’s a multi-stake arrangement where you can buy in at a higher level for the chance of winning a bigger prize.

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RTP (Return To Player)

Another complaint we often hear is that ‘they never pay out’ but there’s an easy way to find out if a site pays out and that’s RTP (Return To Player). We’ve already established that you need to maximise your chances of winning but you don’t want to spend more than what you actually win back.

RTP is usually expressed as a percentage and shows how much you can expect to get back overall if you played hundreds of thousands of times. If the RTP is less than 100% then that’s bad news for heavy depositors because the more they spend, the more they’re likely to lose.

The RTP for online slots is usually in the region of 94% and UK-facing slots are required by law to publish this information. However, sometimes it can be quite hard to find but reputable sites such as Gala Bingo display the RTP on each slot so you can check it out before you play.

The RTP for bingo is even harder to find. The Live Bingo Network seems to be the only one who specifies the RTP and it can be found in the terms and conditions. It’s usually between 75% and 80% which is a lot lower than the RTP for slots.

The reason why the RTP for bingo isn’t always specified is that it’s harder to calculate especially if it’s a progressive or sliding jackpot game. However, you can make a rough guess but it won’t be anywhere near as accurate as it is for slots.

Slots might sound more appealing with its higher RTP but there are a few things you should consider. Firstly, just because the RTP is 94% doesn’t mean you’ll get 94% of your stake back or anywhere near to that. It means that 94% of the money wagered overall will be paid out in cash prizes so if someone scoops up millions on a slot game this comes out of the 94% which leaves a lot less for the other players.

As well as that you can spend a lot of money very quickly on slots so you’ll also be losing money quickly and what’s even worse is that it’s most likely to be real money because most bingo sites don’t let you use bonuses on slots.

Finally, a 10p bingo ticket potentially has a lot more entertainment value than 10p spent on a slot.  Not only will you be lucky to find a slot where one spin costs just 10p it’s all over in a matter of seconds.

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Entertainment Value

The bottom line is that it’s all about the entertainment value – so don’t forget this when you’re playing. One thing worth noting though, while you pay for entertainment and the chance of winning big might make it even more entertaining, you probably won’t win enough to cover your costs. This isn’t because it’s fixed, but because the site needs to cover its overheads and make some money.

The best thing to do is set yourself a budget and stick to it. As well as that you should take advantage of all the bonuses, free bingo and penny bingo games to ensure you get the most out of your money. If you’re lucky enough to win big, you should take out your winnings (after you’ve met the wagering requirements) and continue playing with your original budget. And if you’re down on your luck – you’ve still had a great time playing bingo and you didn’t lose any money you couldn’t afford to lose.

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Improve Your Chances of Winning

Winning strategies

If you want to win more regularly – you’re not alone! Stock market pundit Joseph Granville had the exact same thoughts so he started analysing the game and even wrote a book about his findings. As crazy as it sounds Granville managed to find patterns in the game even though the numbers are randomly generated. According to his theory, if you have the option of picking your own tickets you should make sure the numbers are as varied as possible. You can do this by balancing out the numbers so you have an equal amount of odd and even numbers and an equal amount of high and low numbers. As well as that you should pick numbers with different endings.

Granville’s theory isn’t anything groundbreaking because, of course, the winning ticket is most likely to be a balanced one but that’s because there are more balanced cards than there are unbalanced cards. This doesn’t really help you any because you’re wagering on a specific card rather than on a type of card so the odds of winning are still 1/the number of cards are sold.

Statistician L. H. C. Tippett also developed a bingo strategy but his one was based on the number of calls. Basically, he theorised that the more balls called in a bingo game, the closer the average of the balls gets to 45 in a 90 ball game and 38 in a 75 ball game. So, according to his theory players should pick numbers near to the average if it’s a long game but how can you tell how long a game will run for before it starts?

Tippett’s theory is spot on but because the average of the balls does tend to be closer to 45 or 38 in longer games. However, this is pretty obvious because there’s a set amount of numbers in each game and they’re called once and once only so if all the balls get called the average is going to be 45 or 38.

We have looked into these theories and they are just that, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that picking certain numbers has any effect on your results.

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Buying Cards

The more cards you play with the more chances you have of winning but is it better to buy 100 cards for just one game or one card for each of the 100 games? All you have to do is work out the odds. Let’s say 1000 cards are sold for each game – if you play with 100 cards this would give you a 1/10 chance of winning but if you only buy one card for the game you would only have a 1/1000 chance of scooping up a prize. But what are the odds of winning at least one of the 100 games? First of all, you need to find out the probability of winning none of them which works out roughly at 0.9048 so the chances of winning at least one game is 0.0952. This is slightly less than 1/10 so in theory, the 100 cards for one game is the better option if you want to win.

However, it’s not all black and white – there are some important points worth considering. First up, there’s the entertainment value to consider. Playing 100 games of bingo is much more entertaining than playing just one game.

As well as that you want to gamble responsibly and it’s really easy for spending to get out of hand when you’re buying lots of bingo cards.

It also comes down to prizes – if you buy 100 cards for just one game there’s only one prize fund up for grabs but if you buy a card for each of the 100 games that’s a bigger prize pot to play for. The chances of winning more than once are very small but never say never. If you manage to scoop up double the winnings you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

What’s more, this mathematical analysis might not necessarily work in the real world because not all games are the same and it’s pretty unlikely that they’ll all have the same number of cards sold.  The fewer cards sold the better chance one card has of winning but it means a smaller prize pot unless it’s a guaranteed jackpot game.

Speaking of guaranteed jackpot games, if the room is quiet make sure you buy as many cards as possible because the prizes will be considerably bigger than they would have been if the game was based on ticket sales. However, if the room is busy you should probably skip it out because the prize could be less than what it would be if it was based on ticket sales.

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Conclusion

When it comes to playing bingo online you have nothing to worry about. UK sites are licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission which has tightened up in recent years to protect players and keep the industry crime free. While the games might not be fixed some are definitely fairer than others so make sure you do your research and find the best ones out there. You want a reputable bingo site with high RTPs and lots of bonuses.

All things considered, our top tips are to play within your means and to play at fully licensed and regulated brands. If you get lucky, cash out your winnings and take a profit!