Spend £10 Get £30
Sun Bingo, the gaming offshoot of Britain’s most famous tabloid newspaper has a lot to answer for.The rise of online bingo not only injected new life into a game that had seemed to be in decline, it also kicked off a kind of gold rush as established brands from bookmakers to radio stations threw their hats into the ring. And Sun Bingo, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary as one of the best-known and most popular bingo sites in the UK, led the way.
It’s easy to see why they made the leap all those years ago. Turnkey software solutions – like the Playtech-owned Virtue Fusion in this case – provide everything from payment solutions to a ready-made network of players. So, does Sun Bingo merely leverage brand recognition to create an easy new revenue stream, or does it have something more to offer?
Part of the News Group Newspapers family, Sun Bingo is operated by VF2011 Limited, and has been serving bingo fans since 2006, in which time its picked up some prestigious industry awards.
The logo of The Sun sits front-and-centre on the site’s homepage, and for the less cautious among us that’s probably enough reassurance for us to get our credit card out and sign up without much hesitation.
But Britain’s regulatory framework is in place for a reason. After all, even the biggest of companies can let their customers down. In the case of Sun Bingo everything is as it should be in this regard.
The website operates under the licenses of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission and the UK Gambling Commission, which are the leading guarantors of safe and secure online gambling entertainment.
Under the terms of the UKGC license, Sun Bingo is certified by third-party dispute resolution agency, IBAS (the Independent Betting Adjudication Service), and uses the standard 128-bit SSL protection to encrypt data and transactions.
The website offers a standard set of payment methods, including credit cards and e-wallets.
Spend £10 on game tickets following your first deposit with Sun Bingo, and they’ll give you £30 bonus to play with. This includes a slot bonus worth £10, as well as a £20 bingo bonus, which must be wagered three times (3x) before you’ll be allowed to withdraw the bonus or any winnings from it. That’s a fair playthrough requirement, and beats the industry average of 4x. The slots bonus, meanwhile, has a playthrough requirement of 30x, which also beats the 40-50x you’ll see at many other sites. All well and good, but the seven (7) days you get to meet those conditions is too short. It’s not impossible, but some other sites offer up to 30 days.
The site also offers more than a dozen other promotional offers, including £5 on your birthday!
There are clear second and third deposit bonuses, as well, which is rare in the online bingo world. You can get 50% up to £30 for the second deposit and 50% up to £50 on the third.
On top of the 2nd and 3rd re-load bonuses there’s a host of other mouth-watering promos on offer including prize nights, special weekends, winner’s night and 100 club. You can find a lot of interactive games ready to pay sizeable amounts of money. There is a scratch card section, as well as some nice “social” promos, with small prizes for things like showbiz quizzes and celebrity look-alikes.
When you factor in the additional bonuses and chances to win, complete with some serious jackpots, this Sun Bingo has one of the best promotional rosters in the industry. We’d just like to see that time limit extended, even by a week or two, if we were to be persuaded to give it full marks.
We like Sun Bingo’s site design and game lobby. There’s nothing revolutionary to report, it’s just put together with care. The design is bold and colourful, unnecessary details have been removed, and everything feels like it’s exactly where it should be. It was probably a good idea to keep site design intact when it moved to Virtue Fusion. It certainly looks better than the other big sites on the VF platform.
As with other bingo sites we’ve tested, you won’t be able to explore the game selection until you’ve signed up. In any case, on the homepage you’ll find a nice countdown clock in the top-left corner that informs you when the next bingo games begin, as well as banners and blurb touting the biggest promos. Along the top, a menu gives you instant access to the most important areas of the site.
Sun Bingo is famed for its sizeable and vibrant community (it won a prestigious award in 2014 recognising the quality of its Chat Team), and clicking on the Community link takes you to a section of the site where you can read about recent big winners on the site, complete with photos and oversized prize cheques. There are also video interviews, with the site’s award-winning Chat Team being quizzed by Rustie Lee, and guides to chat rules and bingo lingo. This is an area where Sun really stands out from the crowd, and the operator’s media nous really shows.
In the summer of 2016 the site left the Gamesys Network, and clicking through to Sun Bingo’s web-based bingo client shows exactly what was gained with the move to Playtech’s Virtue Fusion. The ‘All Bingo’ tab reveals nearly 20 games starting within the next three minutes, with everything from 90-ball to 36-ball on offer, along with tons of exclusive rooms, jackpots and themed games.
Even compared to other Virtue Fusion sites Sun Bingo feels well-stocked with variety. There are a few different versions of 75- and 80-ball, specials like 36-ball Cash Cubes Bingo, 75- and 90-ball Deal or No Deal Bingo, and 40-ball Rainbow Riches Bingo.
The bingo lobby shows all the info you need to know, including when the game starts, how many players are signed up, the style of bingo, total prize and current jackpot, the price of a ticket, and the maximum number of tickets you can buy.
There’s a sizeable selection of non-bingo games besides, including a healthy 141 slots (of which more than 40 are jackpot games). The titles aren’t from top-rank developers like NetEnt and IGT (even Playtech’s biggest games aren’t accounted for), but you do get games from the likes of Bally Barcrest, Lightning Box, and Quickspin.
Don’t expect a whole host of familiar titles. What you do get, though, is a collection of games carefully curated to appeal to the site’s main demographic. That means lots of titles based on popular British reality TV shows, including Celebrity Big Brother, Britain’s Got Talent: Superstar, and The X-Factor. Exclusive games based on some of the newspaper’s most recognisable properties, including two based on The Sun’s long-time horoscope reader, Mystic Meg.
Sun Bingo makes very few missteps when it comes to the games it offers, and has to be considered among the very best in terms of variety. As big slots fans we’d like to see some more of our favourites, even if just from Playtech, but for the site’s target audience this site hits the target.
Sun Bingo offers apps for Android and iOS players. They’re pretty good, well-designed, and intuitive to use, so there’s really no barrier to an enjoyable experience on your smartphone or tablet.
If you’re not an app fan or your phone is too chock full to add any more you can still play in your browser by heading over to the Sun Bingo website. There you’ll be able to enjoy the full range of bingo games on virtually any device thanks to its responsive design. More than 110 slots make it to the mobile site, too, including big games like Barcrest’s various Rainbow Riches products.
You can grab the iOS app, for iPhone and iPad, from the App Store. Since Google has banned real-money bingo apps on the Play Store, you’ll have to download the app from the Sun Bingo site. It’s a bit more complicated, but there are clear step-by-step instructions on the site.
Sun Bingo’s UK-based support team can be reached by freephone, email and live chat, and is available between 8am and 1am.
At the top of this review we expressed our concern that Sun Bingo might be a simple cash-grab and nothing more. Many newspapers and magazines try and get in on the online gaming scene but end up churning out hard-hearted products. We’re happy to say that that couldn’t be further from the truth with Sun Bingo. We’re sure it’s a nice earner for News Group, but it doesn’t matter when the final product is this good.
From the welcome bingo offer to the range of promotions and jackpots for existing customers, there’s a ton of value on offer. And if that doesn’t move you, the wide selection of bingo rooms and game varieties, some of which offer regular (and sizeable) jackpots, certainly will. Then there’s that vibrant community, award-winning chat team, and decent slots offering to round things out.
Aside from the seven-day time limit to claim bonuses, we can’t think of any good reasons not to heartily recommend Sun Bingo.