Frank Floor Talk: Wild Spots Bingo is breaking some new, but ancient, ground

June 27, 2023 9:45 AM
  • Buddy Frank, CDC Gaming Reports
June 27, 2023 9:45 AM
  • Buddy Frank, CDC Gaming Reports

A new game called Wild Spots Bingo is coming soon. Its roots are deep in history with a twist from tomorrow’s technology to make a bingo game better.

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Each state has some unique laws concerning gaming. Nevada, where almost everything is legal including the traditional game of Keno, does not permit other lotteries like Powerball or Mega Millions.

California, which has some of the country’s largest Native American casinos, allows the lottery. But only if it is run by the state, not the casinos. Keno, Roulette, and Craps are forbidden in Indian casinos. They have skirted the laws on the latter two games by using cards to substitute for the spinning ball and the dice. Strangely, keno is legal if played on video machines, but not the traditional “brush” game.

Keno is probably the oldest form of organized gambling. It has a Chinese birthright from the Han Dynasty over 3,000 years ago. The original Chinese name for the game was “white dove ticket,” derived from the carrier pigeons that were used to post results around the country. Brushes were used to paint, or mark, the selected numbers on the rice paper tickets laid out with 1 to 80 spots or squares.

Just like today, the government soon got involved and used revenue from the keno game to fund the building of projects such as the Great Wall of China. The same happened here in the U.S. when keno-like lotteries funded the construction of prestigious universities like Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

In Native American gaming, there is no doubt that the oldest and most significant game is bingo, not keno. While there were historic wagering contests among tribal members using sticks, balls and bones, it was the 75 numbers on the bingo card that were the foundation for the explosive growth of Indian gaming today.

Wild Spots Bingo has some of the elements that made keno popular, and even the feel and convenience of a modern online game. But it is definitely bingo, and GLI has approved both its hardware and software as a Class II-level game. The XpertX team has also secured patents to protect the design.

Here’s some of the basics: The game is played on a printed bingo card with the traditional 75 numbers spread under the B, I, N, G, and O headings. The computerized “draw” for each game is 18 numbers. Unlike regular bingo where you may select different cards, in this game you select a bingo pattern. These are common in regular bingo and consist of various shapes or patterns of four to 10 numbers (see the shot of the computer screen below).

Hitting 10 out of 18 from a field of 75 may seem tough. However, if you were playing one of the 10-spot patterns, you will also get up to six “wild” spots. With each “wild spot” you use to complete your selected pattern, your payout will get smaller, but you can win one of the game’s progressive jackpots. Top jackpot (without a wild) can be $10,000, $25,000 or higher depending on the casino’s volume.

If you choose a simple line pattern with just four spots (and the Free space), you are awarded just two of the wild spots. With the more complicated patterns like an “anchor” or a “crab”, the wild spots go up from three, four, five or six. The wins for using each number of wilds are shown on progressive meters labeled: “Red,” “Green,” etc.

Somewhat like electronic tablet bingo played in the traditional bingo halls, you can play multiple games at one time into the future (in fact, Wild Spots Bingo requires a minimum of 10 games). The most common denominations for each game are 50¢ and $1.

A strong selling point of this game is that a player can buy hundreds of games at a time. This makes Wild Spots Bingo perfect as a secondary, incremental revenue game for slot or table game players (it’s the concept of “play while you are playing”). With a 1,000-game purchase, it also becomes attractive to those who visit the casino on a regular basis, checking in on their wins (somewhat like they do with lottery tickets). Likewise, it may become a great game for truck drivers or other commuters who stop frequently as they pass through.

Players can monitor their outcomes on the Wild Spots Bingo website on their PC, tablet, or mobile device. Because of this, it feels like internet or online gaming, but it is not. All wagers must be made, outcomes generated, and winnings collected at the casino site.

The team behind this product is XpertX, a long-time leader in the world of computerized keno. They were one of the first to offer million-dollar keno progressive jackpots that were linked to multiple casinos in multiple states. They were also the developers of a display product known as Vortex. It allowed keno to be shown on hotel room TVs. Vortex also allowed advanced graphic displays and advertising on keno boards. At the time, other boards were simply light bulbs behind the numbers printed on Plexiglas.

President Eric Thomassian started XpertX in the mid-80s after receiving degrees from American University in Paris in International Business and another in Computer Science from USC. He and his team quickly became the top provider of keno systems worldwide.

Veteran casino sales executive Denny Garcia (a founder of Casino Signs North and board member of Mikohn Gaming) joined the team and convinced them of the potential for a bingo product. Garcia is placing the first Beta-level game in New Mexico. He is also convinced the game will work especially well in California, where video keno machines are popular and the state has a rich bingo history. After that, he said any state offering bingo would be a prime candidate for this new game.

One possible objection to the game by operators would be that it requires a staffed booth or “writers” station. These take up very limited space (just requiring a terminal, printer and bank).  XpertX is convinced that the game will be popular. Therefore, they think that with a theoretical hold percentage in the 20% range after progressive contributions, the staffing costs will quickly be a non-issue.

At the printer stations, tickets that resemble standard keno tickets can be produced quickly for players. Each one shows the numbers of the “First Game” and the “Last Game” played. The pattern, and the corresponding numbers selected by the RNG, are grayed out for easy identification. The payouts, and the number of wilds are displayed on the left-hand side of the ticket.

Essentially, Wild Spots Bingo allows the game to come to the player, rather than being confined to a “hall.” The game requires no daubing, and there are no worries if you don’t yell “bingo” in time.  One of their marketing slogans is: “XpertX – Where Bingo is WILD.”  Look for a full product rollout sometime in the 4th Quarter 2023.

You can keep track of the game’s development at the company’s website: