Online Bingo Networks
There are hundreds of online bingo sites. However if you start to play regularly and visit a number of different brands then you’ll start to notice a lot of similarities. This is because many sites use the same software or platform and may even be running the same games, rooms and promotions. This is because sites band together under an umbrella or bingo network.
Networks can confuse bingo players so here’s how we think of them! Imagine a room with a number of different coloured doors. Each door leads to the same room, but on the outside they give the appearance of something different. No matter which door you go through though you’ll still end up in the same room. It’s not as simple as that when it comes to bingo, but it’s a decent approximation.
The main software platforms are: Virtue Fusion (e.g. Gala, Sky, William Hill), Jumpman Bingo (e.g. Carlton, Amazon), Elektra/Cozy Games (e.g. Foxy, Cheeky), Dragonfish (e.g. Iceland, Wink, 888 Ladies, Cupcake) and Gamesys Bingo (e.g. Jackpotjoy, Heart, Virgin). The Dragonfish platform contains mini-networks plus it also powers Real Money Bingo Sites (e.g. Bingo Idol, Bingo Storm, Yay Bingo).
Standalone Bingo Rooms
Things get more confusing when sites use the same software but operate on mini networks or run as a standalone. A standalone is a site – usually one with a massive brand – that runs it’s own rooms and promotions. Wink for example uses the Dragonfish platform. It runs similar promotions to many other brands on the Dragonfish Network, but it also has it’s own rooms and promotions (albeit they’re sometimes shared with 888 Ladies and others). Costa Bingo also utilises Dragonfish but will have it’s own games when compared to Wink, Bubbble Bonus, Chit Chat and others.
These days there’s a lot of overlaps. Jackpotjoy for example used to be independent of Heart Bingo and Virgin Games. Whilst Jackpotjoy still maintains some of it’s own rooms it now shares Session Bingo, Crystal Maze Bingo and Blox Bingo with sister brands. The reason for doing this is that it increases liquidity for a game as well as saves money in terms of managing rooms, chat etc. The more players that can play, the bigger the prizes that can be offered.
Independent Bingo Sites
An independent bingo site is one that is standalone and utilises it’s own platform. The best example of this is Tombola. They’ve managed to sustain themselves as The UK’s best bingo site without resorting to shared rooms or launching multiple brands. Sadly there aren’t enough sites that follow in Tombola’s footsteps. Bingocams, MrQ and mFortune are the only other sites in this category.
A more recent phenomena in online bingo is the plug-in bingo room. This is a third party set-up that integrates into an existing site, very much along the lines of slots. Bingo Millions for example is powered by a company called Mutuel Play. Their product plugs into sites like Buzz and Slots Gold. These brands are on different platforms (Virtue Fusion and Jumpman) but players on these sites will play the same games. More recently Pragmatic Play have launched a bingo product that’s been integrated into Nektan powered casino brands.
Why Play At Different Sites?
Here on PennyBingo we’ve tried to break down the networks as best we can, but why play at different versions of the same sites?
Well different brands offer different promotions. For example The Sun gives players access to a newbie room with no deposit. They use Virtue Fusion as does Ladbrokes, but Ladbrokes only offer new players a deposit bonus. This means you can trial the VF platform at The Sun before perhaps signing up on Ladbrokes. Similarly if you’re not a fan of Jackpotjoy and see that Heart Bingo have a tempting prize promotion you may opt not to visit because you know the gaming platform is one you’re not keen on.