A classic game of chance, bingo has been enjoyed the world over for generations. Its simple rules and opportunities to win money from a relatively small stake have helped make it popular with players of all ages.

During the last few decades, it has also evolved into a truly social hobby, especially here in Shoreditch and surrounding boroughs. Groups of friends have flocked in their droves to enjoy their free time in one of the region’s many bingo halls.

However, as time has marched on, the game has developed a perhaps unfair reputation of being old-fashioned and is often seen as a hobby typically enjoyed exclusively by older members of our community. Today, exciting new revamps of the classic game is helping to erase that stereotype.

What Bongo’s Bingo?

First established in Liverpool in 2015, Bongo’s Bingo has taken the UK by storm. It offers a completely different take on the classic game, changing everything from the setting, the atmosphere, and even the rules.

The events are typically staged in smaller music venues, a similar size to Shoreditch’s own Old Blue Last and Village Underground, although it is sometimes also held outdoors. In place of a band or artist, the evening’s host takes residence on the stage, while the audience is usually seated on benches and tables laid out on the floor.

Bongo’s events still have their basis in the classic game of bingo, with numbers called by the host and eager players tasked with ticking their book off in the hopes of scoring a row, two rows, or a full house.

However, that’s perhaps where the similarities end, as the rest of the night is punctuated by live musical entertainment, dancing, comedy, and audience participation. Players are encouraged to climb on stage to complete challenges, while the host is usually accompanied by a team of entertainers.

Then we have the prizes. In traditional games of bingo, players are generally competing for a cash pot, with amounts up for grabs often totalling hundreds of pounds. But while there are cash prizes available in Bongo’s Bingo, often the winning player instead receives something a little more peculiar. Prizes given away have included giant plush unicorns, miniature hoovers, and cardboard cut-outs of Bruce Forsyth.

This may not be popular with traditional players of the game, but the concept has proven to be an overnight success. It has helped engage new audiences in a way that traditional bingo halls have been unable to.

How else is bingo evolving?

Away from the fun and frivolity of Bongo’s Bingo, the game is also growing from strength to strength online. Its casual nature lends itself perfectly to being played on mobile phones or by players relaxing at home.

Such is the popularity of the game on the small screen that dedicated sites have been launched to help people choose where to play. Platforms like Mint Bingo and PlayOJO feature in the best bingo sites reviews, among a growing list of contemporary options. Alongside the innovation of Bongo’s, the game’s online evolution is helping to keep bingo relevant during the competitive modern era of entertainment.

Whether it’s here in Shoreditch, or elsewhere in the UK, this classic pastime looks likely to continue to thrive. With people across many demographics now enjoying bingo in its many forms, it is also safe to say that the stereotype of bingo being solely for the older generation has been definitively broken.