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I first joined Galabingo.co.uk a couple of years ago when I was going through a stage of joining virtually every online bingo site available, to take advantage of the joining bonuses and promotions.
I admit, I signed up, deposited and gambled my money and then promptly forgot about the site as I waited for my cashback to materialise. It was several months later that I discovered Gala Bingo were running a promotion where they had totally free bingo games running (on Thursdays as it then was) and the temptation of winning money for free was too much for me to resist. I have since remained a member of the site, returning occasionally whenever the mood takes me or there is a particularly attractive promotion on offer.
Using the site
Registering with Gala follows the same basic process as most online gambling sites. This involves choosing a username, password and providing basic details including name, address and date of birth. Obviously, the site is only open to over 18s. Gala bingo is part of the Coral/Eurobet network so it is not possible to be a member of both sites seperately (although your log-in details will work across both sites and you can transfer cash from Gala to Coral and vice versa.)
In order to play, you need to register a debit or credit card on site and make an initial deposit (or alternatively use moneybookers which I have no personal experience of.) The minimum deposit is only £5, which is much lower than many other bingo sites, so handy for when you fancy a little flutter but don't want to get carried away. Winnings can then be paid back on to the card registered and the minimum withdrawal amount is only £1, which is the lowest I've come across on any bingo site, making Gala Bingo ideal for the occasional player.
If anybody is considering signing up to the site make sure you check cashback sites for sign up deals although, surprisingly, they don't seem to be listed on any cashback sites other than Ipoints at the moment.
Gala Bingo is one of the best known names for bingo in the UK (although I haven't set foot in one of their 'real' bingo halls.) It is no surprise that Gala is one of the biggest online bingo sites that I've come across, certainly in terms of the sheer number of different bingo rooms to choose from.
Because of the number of rooms available, the prices and subsequent jackpot amounts vary widely. If I am playing for cash, I generally only play in the Island room, where individual bingo tickets start from just 2p each. (Last of the big spenders, me!) The bingo rooms are clearly laid out, purchasing and pre-booking tickets is straightforward and there is usually a fairly large number of players actively 'chatting', although I don't generally participate in bingo chat.
I do like Gala's 'Everybody's A Winner' promotion which tends to run every few months. In that everybody who purchases at least a single bingo ticket (even a 2p one) is guaranteed to win a (small) cash amount, usually 50p per day. Not mind-blowing but it helps to build up a cash balance in my account which I then fritter away on the scratchcards if I get bored!
I don't tend to play much bingo on the site, other than to take advantage of any bingo promotions available. The original Free Bingo Thursdays were very lucrative for me, with jackpots of up to £70 per game (and totally free.) I was fortunate enough to have a few lucky wins while the free bingo was running. I won a couple of prizes for one lines (£10 each time) and also run full house twice (which paid £70 each time.) For that reason alone, Gala Bingo remains one of my favourite bingo sites, especially as they seemed to be throwing money at me!
It's no real surprise that such a generous promotion came to end. Gala do still have free bingo but it is a much less generous affair. Now they only have the freebies playing in one bingo room at a time and it is no longer possible to pre-book free tickets. This means you have to remain in the bingo room to 'buy' the free bingo tickets as they become available. The amounts paid out have also been reduced significantly - now payouts are a mere £5 per line, two lines and even the jackpot. Even worse are the number of players competing to win these relatively small amounts. Playing tonight are over 1300 players in the free bingo room so the odds of claiming one of those free fivers are pretty small!! (Although back in the days of the £70 jackpots, I was up against over 5000 players and still managed to win twice.) There is a free 'link' game every hour, which is for bigger jackpots but, understandably, the number of players also increases! The only positive about the new free bingo is that it now takes place every day between 9am-12pm.
I haven't tried all of the other games - there is a massive selection of instant win 'scratchcards' and 'slots' available, for example. I must confess to having a real liking to these and can easily gamble away a lot of money on these quite quickly, particularly if I am on a losing streak as I keep convincing myself to have just one more go to see if I can win my money back! My personal favourite is the Sharon Osbourne one, as that seems to be the luckiest for me. Thankfully, it is possible to change the amount that each scratchcard costs to purchase. Most start from as little as 25p each (although the potential winnings are also reduced) with some costing from just 10p each. You could spend as much as £5 per individual scratchcard if you really wanted to but I'm far too much of a tightwad to do that!
My other favourite is the 'Deal or No Deal' jackpot game. This follows a similar format to the popular TV show where you select a box and then open a number of other boxes until you receive an offer from the banker. This is another incredibly addictive game, particularly for fans of the show. I tend to be cautious with this game, accepting the first offer from the banker, providing it's higher than my original wager.
As I've said, being a member of Gala enables you to gamble via Coral too which is an online bookmaker. It is a simple process of transferring money across to Coral if you wanted to place a bet on the horses or football, for example, and I've done that a few times in the past. (I picked the winning horse in the Grand National, the year before last!)
I have made a number of successful withdrawals from Gala bingo over the years - far more than the number of deposits I've made! I've always been very pleasantly surprised by the speed at which winnings are credited into my bank account. It has never taken any longer than two working days which is very fast, compared to similar sites.
I have only ever needed to contact Gala customer services on one occasion and that was connected to a promotion run on its sister site, Coral. In that instance, a bonus code I'd entered on the site hadn't been applied properly but a quick phone call to the free customer services helpline resolved the issue within a couple of minutes. This gives me great confidence in the site and it is a sign of a well run site that I've never needed to contact them since.
As with all of these online gambling sites, a certain amount of self-restraint is required to avoid getting carried away. If you are concerned about this then I would advise caution. I am extremely frugal, okay very tight, and even I am tempted to gamble money away because there is such a thrill when you win (and the temptation to keep throwing good money after bad when you don't win, is even worse!)
I do feel that Gala is one of the better sites available for the occasional gambler, particularly as the deposit and withdrawal limits are so low. It also gives members access to sports betting via Coral so it can be handy for that annual bet on the Grand National, for example, without having to go through the whole rigmarole of signing up to a different site.
Providing you can exercise caution and self restraint, Gala is a great way to keep yourself entertained and has a fantastic range of promotions (even if I still mourn the days of the free bingo with £70 jackpots!)