How can anyone possibly make money by giving it away? It just does not make any sense, its counter intuitive to everything we expect from our consumer economy. Businesses make products and services for a cost and then sell it to a consumer at a higher cost, that is how it has always worked. But the rise of the “free” economy has meant that there are now lots of companies giving things away for free but still making a profit. How do they do it? And what does this mean for online bingo?

It used to be that “free” was reserved for hairy people, that home schooled their children and went rummaging in the trash cans of their local supermarket once the sell by date food had been dumped. However, with a generation of pirates now growing up consumers everywhere are catching onto the free idea. ” Why should I have to pay for it?” is the challenge that consumers are issuing to lots and lots of businesses. The free idea has not hit real world businesses in any big way, but where it is making its presence felt is in the online world. Consumer no longer expect to pay for media, just look at the success of Spotify where users can stream their choice of free music just for listening to a few ads every 10 minutes. If it’s news, music or a video game consumers now expect it to be free and free on demand.

The speedy way in which online media has responded to the consumer free demands is now having big ramifications for businesses which consumers consider the same. In particular online businesses like online gaming and online bingo are finding themselves being considered by consumers as the same as music. To play real bingo there must be a cash prize and consumers playing free bingo expect a cash prize in the same way as they do when they pay for it. So how can any online bingo business make money by giving away money? Surely the business model can’t possibly work if the cash flow is all in one direction?

For an answer we need only look at the phenomenal success that the free bingo site Cheeky Bingo has had in the UK bingo market since it launched in February 2009. Developed by the team behind Foxy bingo, Cheeky bingo was the first online bingo site to play free bingo games for real cash all day every day. Bingo players did not need to part with any cash to win real money that was withdrawable to the real world. It is estimated that Cheeky Bingo gives away some £60,000 per month in free money and they have lots of bingo players playing for free. But by giving away £60,000 Cheeky Bingo were able to make an estimated gross profit of £350,000 in their first month of being open. How did they manage to give away £60k but still make £350k? Well if you’ve ever been on a budget airline and bought a packet of peanuts then you already understand how the Cheeky Bingo model works, but instead of peanuts and car rental, think roulette wheels and slot machines.

By presenting the free bingo players with higher value paid for alternatives, Cheeky Bingo has been able to monetize their bingo players in good fashion. The free bingo games on Cheeky bingo are oversubscribed, have very low prize money and offer a rather poor bingo playing experience. But that is fine by the bingo players because its free and more importantly it makes Cheeky bingo the most accessible bingo on the net for new players. Having played the free bingo games lots and lots of the free bingo players graduate to spending money on higher value bingo and side games like slots. The free bingo allows players to assess the product on offer, learn to trust the brand and then make a purchase with the minimum of effort.

It is very clear that “free” is making a big impact on the world of online bingo. Since Cheeky’s launch in February, 3 brand new copy cat bingo sites have sprung up. Established bingo sites are also looking at their product offerings and increasing the amount of free products that they offer. For example, both Sun Bingo and Tombola Bingo have introduced free bingo games in recent months. There is no doubt that “free” has much further to develop amongst consumers and we will all have to wait and see what this means for businesses like online bingo.

By Sam Cook
Sam Cook is a freelance author writes articles on various game related topics. For more information on internet bingo sign up and online bingo games he suggests you to visit