How to launch an online bingo business
Setting up a bingo site is actually relatively easy
We’ve been asked on a number of occasions, how do you go about setting up a bingo business? We’re in a unique position to offer guidance on building your own bingo operation and now that the majority of bingo companies are online, its become a lot easier to get started with your own bingo website, straight off the shelf.
This tutorial will give you everything you need to know about setting up an online bingo site (otherwise known as a skin), from choosing a domain to launching a unique design with a fully licensed provider – That’s right, you don’t need to have a gambling license to run your own online bingo site!
DO YOU KNOW: You don’t need to have a gambling license to run your own online bingo site!
Ten steps to launching a bingo skin
Whilst the ten steps below are in a broad chronological order, you will find that many of them overlap and are also subject to the vagaries of each other. There are many other areas that will come up during the launch of a bingo skin, however these ten steps broadly cover the major issues;
- Choose a suitable domain name (Search our directory for active bingo sites)
- Select your network/software supplier
- Create a logo and design the site from the template supplied
- Decide how you will differentiate your product and your marketing
- Create your marketing collateral
- Commence your pre-launch marketing
- Launch the site with unique launch offers
- Launch your marketing campaign
- Begin marketing to the bingo affiliate community
- Commence customer retention and re-start marketing
Lots of independent operators succeed in the online bingo market.
At the time of writing, according to the WhichBingo.co.uk Directory, there are around 440 successfully functioning bingo sites in the UK. A huge percentage of these are white label sites (independent operators using off the shelf software). Whilst there are many software developers in the bingo market, most of the bingo skin providers are run by just three software suppliers; Dragonfish (part of the 888 empire), Jumpman Gaming & Cozy Games.
If you’re familiar with online bingo, you may have also heard of Playtech (previously Virtue Fusion), now whilst they are considered a major software provider they cater for high-end iGaming operators and set up is a little bit more advanced.
WhichBingo customers love joining new sites!
WhichBingo has been in operation for over 15 years and during that period ‘New Bingo Sites‘ has always been our most popular category. There’s a huge demand for new sites with new deals, as our bonus hunters look to enjoy the latest skins and the newest promotions. So whilst it appears to be an over-saturated market, the appeal of a new site is still ever present in this industry.
Before you get started… what is a ‘bingo skin’ or ‘white label’ site?
For clarity, and for the purposes of this article, a bingo skin is defined as a pay-to-play online bingo site connected to a network of other sites who take part in linked bingo games, they require no operational input from the owner and this is the easiest route to getting your bingo business online.
All standard tasks are carried out by the software provider
‘Operational input’, in this sense means, player registration, financial processing (deposits, payments, payouts etc), basic CRM (welcome emails, standard promotions etc), customer support, game management & scheduling, chat management, hosting and licensing. You won’t have to do any of that!
Dragonfish offer the Globalcom network, Jumpman Gaming offer two bingo networks (and a slots network) and Cozy Games offer two bingo networks and a casino network. Whilst all bingo sites on a bingo network play the same games in the same rooms and offer a ‘vanilla’ bingo template to work from, there are areas of differentiation offered by each network to allow an owner to stand out from the crowd, more of which later in this article.
So how do you actually start a bingo business?
Before you even start looking at how to get into the online bingo market you have to ask yourself a number of questions;
- Why do I want to do this?
- What is the opportunity cost of getting into the bingo skin market?
- How much time and money can I invest in the venture?
- Why will my bingo skin be more successful than any other bingo skin?
Launching a bingo skin is fairly straight forward, this is a market that at one end is dominated by around a dozen major brands, and at the other end is swamped by the sort of ‘me too’ product that you could easily end up launching. So…
- Is the market flooded and saturated? Yes.
- Can you still make money? Yes.
- Is it easy to make substantial profit? No… but it is achievable!
Having asked yourself the above questions, and come to the conclusion that you want to compete in the market of online bingo sites, there are a few simple steps to follow.
Choose a Bingo network software supplier and they’ll guide most of the startup
Although there are lots suppliers available, the three leading bingo skin network providers are Dragonfish, Jumpman Gaming and Cozy Games. Its hard to step away from the basic concept of bingo and find differences across the range of operaters. Each software/network will vary its delivery, but ultimately the game of bingo remains the same.
To illustrate exactly what each supplier has to offer, we approached those main 3 software brands and put some questions to them.
Why should someone pick your software? What are the key benefits of working with you?
In this mature market we believe customization, segmentation and retention is the name of the game. The Dragonfish Bingo platform allows its partners to come up with their own added value features and using our set of APIs to integrate to the platform and customize their offering to their brand needs. We have a decade of experience in building and operating a gaming platform, while we work alongside our partners in forming the roadmap every year, and adjust our plans and projects to the market’s heartbeat.
Product differentiation, agility and value for money. With the clutter of 400+ Bingo sites in the UK market, product differentiation is a key to success and the heart of Cozy’s business model. For more than a decade, we have made significant investments to perfect our agile technology, which is capable of deep customization. Every white label partner has access to build a unique business model and make changes driven by strong analytical tools.
Apart from customization, we enable our partners to keep their operating costs low by automating most of their standard processes. We even build games to suit the partner’s business model and acquisition strategy. Cozy’s CMS technology has been proven to optimize sites that are ranking high on search engines like Google.
We were late to the party but have managed to grow exponentially and although we think our bingo is great and our instant games are great and our uptime is great and our chat moderators are great and everything else is great(!), we’ve managed to differentiate ourselves thanks to the cliché of ‘relationships’. Jumpman Gaming are the only UK B2B bingo network supplier with their entire partner and customer-facing teams based in the UK. When a partner picks Jumpman, they get quick face to face meets and no time zones or unknown bank holidays to contest with, and unlimited coffee!
The boring, albeit equally valid, answer is that the software has been moulded by the chat moderators and a handful of the original players to provide superior lifetime values that the partner will share in. Jumpman don’t follow the crowd and continue to develop proprietary games while turning conventional thinking on its head with regards to industry mainstays, such as redeposit rewards and bonus cash.
What options are available (different networks, products etc)?
We tailor the solution to the partner based on his needs and size. Our platform supports a skin model with a shared pool of players inside the different bingo rooms and also a standalone model…and everything in between. The customization and segmentation tools we offer to our partners are extremely wide including, but not limited to, website customization, bingo client customization, Retention tools (such as advanced social and gamification features), iFrame on mobile and soon to be added mobile customization.
We offer fully managed white label solution for online bingo, casino and slots. We provide end-to-end technical, operational and licensing support to our partners so they can leave everything to us and focus only on marketing.
Cozy runs a large Bingo & Casino network serving the UK, Ireland and the Nordic regions. Cozy’s Live Bingo Network (LBN) is very popular in the UK market. On Google search, three of the top five bingo brands are powered by Cozy. LBN currently supports 80+ brands on its platform. It offers 90 ball, 80 ball, 75 ball, 50 ball and 30 ball Bingo variants and 200+ best of the breed slots, table and instant win games from game providers such as Microgaming, Eyecon, Sigma, and Lightening Box Games along with in-house games.
Mobile Casino Network (MCN) launched in 2014 has grown significantly in a short length of time in terms of player traction and brand strength. MCN is currently supporting 20+ brands on its platform.
Jumpman Gaming offer three networks, all of which are UKGC and AGCC licensed:
15 Network – Jumpman’s flagship bingo network launched in 2011 offering the popular ‘Spin the Wheel’ game as part of the player acquisition offer. Included in 15 Network are over 100 instant games and the unique ‘Streak Buster’ feature which quite literally halts a player’s bad luck.
Wheel of Slots Network – Launched in 2015, WSN removes bonus cash from the equation and keeps players happy with cold hard, real cash, which can be used site-wide without restriction. A unique two-ring wheel greets players on sign up and stays with them throughout their entire journey on-site, offering free spins and bingo tickets on a daily basis.
Jumpman Slots – The latest product from Jumpman Gaming, JumpmanSlots is an instant game platform built in 2016 with speed and mobile play at the core of the user experience. With a huge selection of content and an unrivalled level of personalisation available to both partner and player, Jumpman Slots uses some of the community element important to its bingo brothers, with cross-brand leaderboards and tournaments. The product removes the bingo element of Jumpman’s other networks but has taken its instant game suite and put it on steroids!
What costs are involved (set up, monthly fees, CRM etc)?
We firmly believe in a success-based model. Costs, especially set up, are based on work involved. Each agreement is tailor-made to the partner and the upfront costs are typically not a stumbling block. We make sure our partners are comfortable and have enough marketing gunpowder to carve a market share for themselves.
We offer a very low one-time setup fee. All other fee are success based as an ongoing rev share arrangement. Commercials are all-inclusive under a transparent contract. We offer an attractive, tier-based rev share model to all its partners. Starting with a basic rev share model, partners can earn up to 80% based on volumes.
Come and have a chat and a coffee….You can have latte, cappuccino or even a flat white……
What areas of differentiation do you offer? And what are the associated costs?
As mentioned above, the customisation and segmentation tools we offer to our partners are extremely wide including, but not limited to, website customisation, bingo client customisation, retention tools (such as advanced social and gamification features), iFrame on Mobile and soon to be added mobile customisation.
The canvas is wide and the scope of differentiation is left to the partner’s imagination. Our agile technology can differentiate in almost every aspect of the business including website look and feel, choice of games, custom games, game lobby management, loyalty programmes, customized CRM, on-the-fly reports and exclusive promotional offers. The associated cost is dependent on the volumes and type of product and the customization that the partner opts for.
The answer is the same across all three networks – everything can be personalised; from custom lobbies and acquisition offers, to bingo rooms, instant game content and CRM – the partner can join the club or simply benefit from liquidity and aim to stand alone.
What do you look for when assessing potential skin owners?
We look for a partner. That means there should be a mutual compatibility and alignment of interest, and we pride ourselves of being able to cater for small operators alongside some of the market’s marquee brands. We have been able to successfully introduce “new blood” via an alternative business approach.
We actively look for enthusiastic partners who are either industry veterans and well aware of the online gambling market or are new to the industry and are looking for strong partnerships. We look for
- Innovative Mobile and Email Marketing approach
- Effective SEO, SEM and SMM campaign planning
- Captive User Databases
- Strong affiliate marketing
- Good business acumen and zeal for business excellence
- Basic understanding of the i-gaming market
We vet all new partners and although the team will work closely with them to grow a site, the skin owner needs to have the desire, and ability, to send traffic. The hunger to grow a brand and ability to focus on what’s important when launching and maintaining a skin, seem to be the difference makers. Other than that, there’s no magic formula and unlike our advanced player CRM strategies, it’s seemingly impossible to have any kind of accurate predictive analysis when looking at which skin owners will be the largest.
What advice would you give a potential skin owner when they are considering entering the online bingo market?
We recommend that he first defines his core strengths and competitive edge. Some partners are search engine experts, while others are proficient in above-the-line marketing and brand building. Once you’ve done that, we can then tailor our platform and services to your needs. Our platform today offers a wide range of regulation-proven features, built to optimise returns, such as free spins, special bonus offers, an enormous portfolio of games and more. It’s mostly about picking the right ones and putting them to work, and then we adjust and optimise based on our experience. And we also recommend our partners take advantage of our Casinoflex proposition, which allows them to launch a casino product alongside their bingo brands, to tap a wider range of demographics and enable effective cross-sell inside their family of brands.
Specifically for the UK online bingo marketplace, differentiation is a key for success. New players should be clear on their marketing strategy and how they can acquire players in a sustainable manner. Choose a partner who is specialized in white label services and has large player liquidity to tap into.
2 pieces of advice really:
1. Don’t be put off by the apparent saturation in the industry – if you choose the right software, you’ll have the ability to stand out from the crowd. Player spend is increasing at Jumpman Gaming, which is not something you expect within a saturated market.
2. Work damn hard. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme and you can’t do well (with any provider) if you’re not willing to work hard. Jumpman Gaming will help you as much as possible, guaranteeing to be in the office before you and leaving after you.
So what is it really like running a bingo site?
Until you have actually got to the point of launching and running a skin it is very difficult to decide whether it will be right for you. To get the ‘warts and all’ view of white label ownership we asked a Jumpman Gaming and a Cozy Games skin owner for their insights. In fact we asked ‘best of breed’ about their views; Mummies Bingo, owned by Andy Edwards, won the ‘Cozy Site of the Year’ at the 2016 WhichBingo awards and RocketBingo, owned by Tom Waites, won the ‘Jumpman Site of the Year’ at the 2016 WhichBingo awards.
Andy Edwards – Mummies Bingo
I started as a part time bedroom affiliate way back in January 2006, when I launched Madaboutbingo. I ran this part-time along side a full time job until January 2011 and I have been a full time affiliate every since.
Why did you launch a bingo skin?
I realised that I could make money having my own skin and retain a higher rev share commission then advertising for other bingo sites. It made sense to launch our own bingo site as we could market the site on our own affiliate sites and make more money.
As an affiliate I was in a unique position where we know what works for bingo players as its our business to market online bingo products to attract players to hundreds of sites on a monthly basis. I took the skills I already had and created a multi award winning bingo site in MummiesBingo.
Why did you pick Cozy Games as your skin supplier?
When we decided to launch our own bingo site, we did shop around and we were approached by a lot of different software providers. However I liked the look of the Cozygames platform, had dealt with them for many years as an affiliate and knew that their sites convert well for players. We worked with them on building the website, CRM and SEO in order to get the most out of the site along with their network.
What are the pros and cons of owning a skin?
You get to earn anything from 50% up to 70% of the NGR revenue. When you compare this to a standard affiliate deal or even a flat, top-end rev share deal of 40%-45% you see a greater ROI. You have a lot more say on how to market to the players and what welcome offers you can use. If done right you have the chance to compete against multi-million pound companies with your own bingo site and own marketing budget.
You are limited in what you can and can’t go into the standard CRM marketing
and have very little say as to what games will be added or taken away. If you need the site amending or anything technical changing this can take many weeks as you are reliant on the software provider’s tech team to make the changes you need.
You need a strong marketing budget to begin with otherwise you will struggle to stand out from the crowd.
How have you marketed your skin?
We initially soft launched the site and marketed it on our own affiliate sites. We then gave the site a push with the affiliate programme and got a lot of top affiliates onboard really quickly. From here our next task was SEO which, with my expertise, has helped get the site to the high ranking it now has two years later.
What tips would you give someone planning to launch a skin?
Shop around and approach different software providers as you can negotiate deals based on what other providers are offering in terms of set up fees, management fees, min rev share amounts etc. Also use your own marketing expertise. As affiliates it’s our job to market sites in such a way in order to drive traffic to the operators for us to earn our commission. Treat your own site as the same – this is your biggest earner and you can market this site better then most operators, so use this to your advantage. Also contact your fellow affiliates and ask them to promote the brand for you or agree to push their brand in return.
Also slow and steady wins the race, I know you will all want to make as much as you can, as quickly as you can but if you come speeding out of the starting blocks you are likely to make mistakes and if you go too aggressive on your SEO without first building the brand then you stand to get penalised by Google which will undo all your hard work.
Tom Waites – Rocket Bingo
Growing up in Ripon, North Yorkshire, my first memory of bingo is courtesy of Whitby’s amusements! Flashing lights, excited callers and big prizes – it looked like fun and this 10 year old wanted in! However, my first taste of marketing bingo came years later whilst studying Business at university in Newcastle – where one afternoon, in the toon, my first portal was born! Looking back, this was a great time to join the party, as there was less competition and Google was a whole lot easier to dance with.
Why did you launch a bingo skin?
Baskets and eggs! Having spent five years as an affiliate I had become keen to diversify. I don’t think owning a white label is an essential step for every affiliate, however at the time it seemed sensible for my business and I’m still content I made the move!
Why did you pick the software supplier that you did?
I knew I wanted to create a brand with some USPs, particularly by way of exclusive offerings for my players. I had seen this work previously, so the flexibility offered by Jumpman to offer exclusive promotions, particularly stand-alone rooms, within their quickly improving software, was a strong attraction.
Pre-signing, I studied a few contracts from various suppliers and noted some fairly ‘uncomfortable’ clauses – the devil can definitely be in the detail! (More on that later). However, I generally felt at ease with the Jumpman contract and the positive attitude of their team. In addition to the above, it was Jumpman who first suggested I start a skin.
As a skin owner you will have a great, albeit not total, level of control over the running of your brand. If used effectively and where permitted by supplier, this control can allow you to stand out from the crowd and offer your players that special something. In addition, you’ll also have access to reporting that you simply don’t get as an affiliate. This assists you in spending your marketing budget effectively, particularly where PPC is concerned, thanks to conversion tracking and other tools issued by ‘Big G’.
Set-up costs can be high and you need to keep a close eye on your marketing spend. Be selective when choosing affiliates to work with; know their traffic source as all traffic is not equal. I learnt this lesson through a couple of runaway CPA campaigns, that are still heavily negative. Take home point – periods of financial loss are entirely possible.
Other challenges rise from costs that will be payable from your portion of the revenue share including, for example, affiliates. It’s difficult to offer an appealing deal to affiliates whilst leaving something ‘in it’ for yourself.
How have you marketed your skin?
I’ve used a variety of different methods including affiliates, PPC, SEO and making use of my own opt-in mailing lists from years gone by. Going forward I am focussing heavily on further scaling my PPC campaigns as I see this as a relatively stable traffic source compared to organic, especially at a time when Google is piling an ever-increasing amount of adverts on top of the organic results – I doubt this trend will change.
What tips would you give to someone planning to launch a skin ?
Take your time finding the right supplier for your business. Be early in asking for a copy of the ‘standard’ contract – examine it forensically and negotiate strongly! Pay particular care to understanding all the deductibles from net cash, especially those which are not shared with the supplier; costs such as chargeback commissions can stack up!
If the contract requires you to guarantee net cash after launch or a minimum marketing spend, consider carefully if it will work for your business. Such requirements didn’t work for my business and amounted to unnecessary risk as opposed to incentive to succeed.
And finally, know your marketing strategy before you launch and never rely exclusively on any one particular traffic source. Good luck!
Online Bingo is a busy, very competitive, saturated market, but despite this, there are still opportunities out there.
Hopefully this article will help if you are considering starting an online bingo skin from scratch, inform you about what to expect, whether it’s worth your while, how you can market it to make it successful and whether or not you are then going to make money.
You can get more information from the software suppliers mentioned above via the following details;
Jumpman Gaming – Ben Starr, Ben@15marketing.co.uk
Dragonfish – Daniel.Flesch, Daniel.Flesch@dragonfishtech.com
Cozy Games – Tania Basu, Tania@cozygames.com
Should you require any further help or advice on any aspect of the above article, starting your own bingo skin or indeed any aspect of online bingo please feel free to contact me at Phil.firstname.lastname@example.org.