We all know that bingo companies make money by selling tickets to players, but what isn’t quite so well known is exactly how much of that money the bingo operators keep for themselves. Their margin.
There needs to be a prize that’s worth winning or no one would bother playing, so as well as keeping their own share of the cash they have to give a decent sized chunk of the ticket sales back out to the eventual winners, but how much?
This is actually a difficult question to answer because the amount can be different for online and offline bingo halls, and even then, it’s up to the operator how much they decide to take as a fee for providing the bingo in the first place.
This is a site about online bingo, so we will stick to talking about that for this article, but just know that real world bingo halls have higher costs so they will likely take a bigger cut of the sales before giving the rest out as prize money.
With that out of the way, let’s have a look at bingo site margins. You might have heard the margin described as house edge before if you play casino, but it’s the same thing – it just means the percentage of the money which is kept by the business providing the game.
A Quick Lesson in the Maths
Don’t run away, this is super quick and easy to understand.
First off, a whistle stop tour of the Return to Player, or RTP for short.
This is how much of the money taken on each game is paid back out as prize money, so if £100 pounds worth of tickets are sold, and the different prizes all add up to £75, the bingo site is keeping £25 to pay their bills.
This would be a 75% RTP, so a 25% margin. Together, they add up to 100%.
Basically, the RTP is the opposite of the margin, so if you know one you can work out the other by taking it away from 100. A game with a 20% margin will have an 80% RTP, and a game with a 60% RTP will have a 40% margin, etc.
It’s always out of 100 so it’s a nice easy round number to work with, so no advanced mathematics required!
How Much Money do Bingo Sites Keep?
Now we all know what we are talking about, we can explain a bit about the margins at online bingo sites.
Firstly, many bingo sites run on bingo networks, and these are usually operated by an external company. It’s the same arrangement as an online casino licensing slots from an external game developer in many ways.
It works like this:
- Bingo Network A provides games.
- Bingo Site 1 uses Bingo Network A.
- Bingo Site 2 uses Bingo Network A.
- Bingo Site 3 uses Bingo Network A.
This means that players from all three bingo sites will be playing in the same bingo room for the exact same prize, even though they are playing on totally different bingo sites. This means more players in a single room and therefore higher prizes.
This also means that the margin for different sites on different networks will vary, not to mention all of the different types of bingo game available these days.
With so many different types of bingo game (75 ball, 50 ball, themed games with extra features) there is no one size fits all answer to the question of margins, however, we can give you a general idea of what to expect.
While most of the big names in the bingo industry say the RTP on their games is at least 80% – 85%, smaller sites or those on smaller networks could be as low as 75%.
This means the margin on online bingo can be anywhere between 25% and 15%, depending on where you play.
This doesn’t affect your chances of winning, but it does affect how much you will get when you win, so if you can find this information for your bingo site it is worth knowing. However, not all bingo sites display the RTP, so finding the answer can be tough.
We should make it clear that the RTP for a game of bingo is not the same as for the jackpot. Games with jackpots attached will usually tell you how much of your ticket price goes towards the jackpot, and this should come out of the bingo provider’s end.
So if they are taking a margin of 25% of every ticket sold, and the progressive jackpot takes 2%, that means the bingo provider is only pocketing 23%, and the rest is being kicked back out to you lot.
Well, if you win anyway!
The bingo room will work out how much they need to take overall to cover jackpots, free tickets and other promotions, and it will all be priced in to the overall margin they decide on.
Comparing Bingo Margins to Other Games
A lot of people play other games like slots and scratch cards as well as bingo – hey, we’re not all die hard bingo purists – and it’s interesting to look at how these games compare.
For example, it’s generally accepted that an RTP of 96.00% or above is acceptable for an online slot game; anything less than that and the provider starts looking like a greedy guts.
However, online slots can have very different return to player percentages; a small number are as high as 98.00% and others can be in the low 90s. This information is clearly displayed on each individual slot, but for bingo the information is not as easily found.
Anyone who plays scratch cards online or offline will probably be getting a lower RTP than that, with many online scratch cards around the 80% mark or higher, and if you turn over a National Lottery scratch card and read the back it will tell you that there is approximately a 1 in X chance of winning, usually between 3.5 and 5.5. If you dig deeper and look it up online you will find RTP’s of around 60% – so a 40% margin.
Obviously the higher the RTP, the more chance you have of winning something, so a bigger number is better for RTP and a lower number is better for margin.
With bingo sitting around the 75%-85% mark it’s not the best value game out there in terms of RTP, but although the margin is higher it is one of the cheapest and best value in terms of how long your money lasts.
A 10p bingo ticket can last a few minutes while the game plays out, while a 10p spin on a slot or online scratch card is over in seconds. Real life scratch cards are never cheaper than £1 and take only a few seconds to scratch off and check, so bingo wins hands down when it comes to entertainment value if you ask us!