Wayne's tombola Review

I absolutely love tombola, and if you haven't tried it yet I recommend you click on the link above and check them out. They're my #1 pick on my Best Bingo Sites page and I can't speak highly enough of them.

They are 'Britain's Biggest Bingo Site' for a reason, and for me their popularity comes down to four things:

  1. Unique Games
  2. Great Community
  3. Safe Play
  4. Low Cost

Unique Games

Right from the start, tombola decided to differentiate themselves from the crowd by building all their own bingo games in-house. This means that every single game in tombola is 100% unique.

Unlike other bingo software providers, tombola's games are designed in a minimalist fashion, with the focus on bingo and chat. You don't get loads of annoying side-games thrown in your face, and particularly since mobile bingo took off they've managed the move to mobile-first better than anyone. There are loads of truly imaginative bingo variants, most of which simply you can't play anywhere else. Plus, they're adding new games all the time.

Great community

I'm not one for getting too involved in the chat, but at tombola you can see that the players and chat hosts here do have a great bond going on. The chat hosts are all UK based (Sunderland area) and the ethos is all about getting more people engaged in the community, rather than getting more money out to them. The hosts are allowed to give away £1 bonuses regularly on chat games. I even won £2 the other day in a quick quiz the host did, after which I discovered that's the limit you can win in one week!

It helps that the chat window in tombola's rooms gets a lot of real estate. It usually takes up half the window if you're playing on desktop, and if you're on mobile it's probably the best experience of chatting and playing bingo at the same time. Something many other bingo softwares struggle with getting right.

When there is no game in play, the chat on mobile expands to full screen, but once a game begins, it shrinks but just enough so you can see your best ticket at the top. It still leaves you with a large enough chat area so that when you're typing (and your keyboard pops up) you can still follow the game and the chat. It sounds a simple thing, but too many other sites have got this horribly wrong and it puts you off chatting completely at some brands.

The on-site community is backed up by an active social media presence on Facebook & Instagram. They are all definitely worth a follow as they'll keep you informed of the latest promotions as well as running all sorts of fun competitions to win merch and other tombola prizes.

Safe play

Tombola were a pioneer when it comes to all things responsible gambling, having developed loads of safe play tools years before they became the norm (and enforced on sites by the UK Gambling Commission).

I'm not sure if they still do this, but I remember they once gave me a £1 bonus just for setting a weekly deposit limit. That kind of thing was absolutely unheard of in this industry. I've been to tombola's HQ in Sunderland and spoken to the people there, and I was impressed by how the staff were not incentivised to increase player's spend.

When you first sign-up, your weekly deposit limit is set to a default of £250 per week, which is locked for 24 hours. After this period you can go in and change it to whatever works best for you. The maximum the site will allow to be spent in one week is £500. Plus, if your balance is ever over £250 they will not allow further deposits to be made.

Other safeplay tools at your disposal are:

  • Stake limits - set limits for individual games.
  • Timekeeper - alerts you to how much time you've spent on the site.
  • Game Freeze - stops you from playing a specific game for 24 hours.
  • Cooling Off - self exclude for up to 5 months.
  • Self Exclusion - self exclude 6+ months or permanently.

Low Cost

Perhaps the biggest reason for tombola's success has been their strategy of keeping ticket prices low while maintaining the ability to win decent sized prizes. Across the board there is a limit of £2 on every single game, and they have games that play for as little as 1p.

What this means is whatever your budget you can find a place to play, and play there for hours. It also means that every room has the potential to be a fair-and-square room, so you know you're not at a disadvantage compared to some sites where a player with deeper pockets than you might be maxing out on every game to increase their chances to win

Bingo Games Available

Here is a list of all the different varieties of online bingo available at this site:

Bingo Games Available

How to find the bingo games

Once you're logged in, you'll see all of the bingo games down the left hand side of the screen if you're on desktop, or along the top of the screen if you're on mobile. On mobile you can swipe the games left to right to reveal more.

You'll also notice one of the options is called 'tombola arcade'. This is a sister site where they have a selection of slot and instant win type games you can play. As a tombola bingo member you are automatically a member of this sister site, but we'll explain more on that later.

Tombola Arcade

For years tombola refused to do anything other than bingo, but eventually they did end up launching a spin-off site called tombola arcade. It is treated almost like a separate website, with a link at the top of each site linking them together. You can login using your bingo username and password, and once logged in it does just feel like you are on two different sections of the same site.

Although the games are more of a slots / instant win style, the tombola ethos remains. You can't bet more than £1 at a time and all the games are built in-house by tombola.

'Spin' is the tombola take on traditional slot games. They have several different ones to choose from, each with a different theme and game mechanics / bonus rounds:

  • Galleon
  • Cosmos
  • Phoenix
  • Egyptian
  • Classic
  • Sacred Stone
  • The Deep
  • Gold Rush
  • Tribe
  • Minotaur
  • Heist.

There are also many other different instant style games such as Bubble, Go, Pick, Emoji, Scratch, Flip, Cards, Glow and Drop. Out of all of these I quite like Cards the best, so I recommend checking that one out first.

The Big Link

Tombola has loads of promotions going on all the time, but one of the most popular that they do every so often is 'The Big Link'. This is where all the Bingo90 rooms link together for a huge prize, usually at peak time around 9pm. Expect to find full house prizes of around £10,000 when these special games take place. Equally expect the rooms to be full of 13,000+ players too!

In the video below I took part in a very special Big Link event called 'Blowout', where they held 12 consecutive link games. I obviously didn't win, but the video gives a great view of what it's like playing tombola Bingo90 during a very busy event. Check it out.

Video: 12 consecutive tombola linked games

How to make a deposit at tombola.

To make a deposit you must first go to the 'my account' section and then select 'add funds'. On desktop the 'my account' link is found on the top navigation, this opens a pop-up where you can then select 'add funds'. On mobile, the my account area can be found by clicking the small icon in the top left.

Although the screenshot below shows my deposit screen accepts Paypal, this has now been removed for new players. Only existing players who used Paypal in the past can still have this option. For everyone else, it is debit card only.

If you choose Paypal, your transaction will show up as 'TOMBOLA GIBRALTAR'. If you choose to deposit by card it will appear in your bank statement as 'tombola'.

The minimum deposit amount at tombola is £10.

Making a deposit at tombola
Paypal or bank card are your two deposit options at tombola

How to make a withdrawal

If you're lucky enough to win some money and you wish to make a withdrawal, this too is as easy as making a deposit. Simply head back to the 'my account' section and select 'withdraw funds'.

The minimum withdrawal limit is £10 (unless you are closing your account), so if you have less than this in your account balance it will say 'Insufficient funds' and you won't be able to make a withdrawal. If you have more than £10 in your account, you can select how much of your balance you wish to withdraw and it will be sent back to the payment method from which you made your deposit.

For most card accounts, payment will get to you within the normal banking cycle (3-5 days), but it is usually quicker than that. Withdrawals to Paypal shouldn't take any longer than 72 hours. I've withdrawn many times over the years and usually it arrives in less than 24 hours.

The maximum single withdrawal is £20,000, anything bigger is paid by cheque.

Does tombola bingo have an app?

Yes. Tombola has a dedicated app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. You can download these from the respective play stores, but if you go directly there I won't receive any sort of commission for referring you. You can always join via the regular website and then later download the app and login.

It is sometimes better to play tombola via the web browser on your device rather than the app as you will get the latest game updates quicker. App stores have processes in which sites like tombola must submit for approval each time they add something new. If you're just on the mobile website, there is no approval needed so you get all the games with no fuss.

What is tombola Playmates?

Playmates is tombola's refer-a-friend scheme. Friends can be invited to join tombola with the incentive of a FREE £5 bonus code. If your friend joins tombola and then later goes on to deposit and spend £20 real money, you will then get a £20 bingo bonus.

Also, if your friend later goes on to win a prize equal or greater than £20 on bingo (or £100 on arcade), you also get an additional real money prize that automatically goes in your account as a reward for introducing them to tombola (some games are ineligible so check tombola for more details).

Bingo Playmate Rewards:

  • Your friend wins £20+ on bingo, you get £2 real money.
  • Your friend wins a £50+ jackpot, you get £10 real money.
  • Your friend wins a £100+ jackpot, you get £20 real money.
  • Your friend wins a £500+ jackpot, you get £50 real money.

Arcade Playmate Rewards:

  • Your friend wins £100+ on arcade, you get £2 real money.

Terms & conditions apply so make sure you visit the 'Refer-a-Friend' or 'Playmates' page which can be found via the 'my account' section.

Britain's Biggest Bingo Site?

For years tombola have used the tagline of 'Britain's Biggest Bingo Site' in their advertising, but how do we know if this is even true? Well, the advertising watchdog, Clearcast, does not allow companies to make claims like this without independent proof that what they are saying is true.

Their claim is currently backed up via online bingo player data that I myself produce. The BingoData Report is a quarterly publication that I create using a tool that visits 20 of the top UK bingo sites every hour to count how many players are playing in all of the different bingo rooms. From this data I can work out which sites have the largest number of average players, and therefore verify that tombola are the biggest site in the UK.

Tombola Contact Details

Tombola are one of the best sites when it comes to customer support. You can contact them in a variety of ways:

According to their website, their average response time are 4 seconds for live help, 8 seconds for telephone and 4 hours for email.

You can even write to them at tombola, Wylam Wharf, Low Street, Tyne & Wear, SR1 2JR. But obviously not the fastest way to get in touch!

Who owns tombola bingo?

Tombola is one of the few bingo operators that is still privately owned. The man behind the company is CEO Phil Cronin, a Sunderland-based businessman. In the 1960's his father, Frank, took over Edward Thomson Printers, which started out as a stationary shop but later went on to become one of the UK's biggest suppliers of bingo tickets. Phil's brother, Paddy Cronin, is the current CEO there.

When he was 28, Phil's father became the company's chairman and Phil was made managing director. In 1995 they set up Intermedia Games Ltd, through whom they created and sold promotional games cards. Realising the growing popularity of bingo among their online users, Phil then created tombola in 2000 in order to produce original online bingo games and software.

After launching tombola he went to Harvard Business School to study, but returned in 2002 as Chief Executive. In 2006 the company partnered with The Sun newspaper to launch the original Sun Bingo, providing all of the software and original bingo games. However just two years later, tombola and The Sun parted ways, with Sun Bingo moving to Gamesys and tombola rebranding as their own bingo site outright.

Fortunately for tombola, their contract with The Sun meant that they owned all of the player accounts that had registered for Sun Bingo in those two years of operation. So when tombola first launched, all the old Sun Bingo players could log straight in with their existing details and account balances. Sun Bingo on the other hand had to ask all their players to re-register at their new site.

This meant tombola got off to a running start as one of the biggest bingo sites in the UK, and now several years later they are dominant in the market as 'Britain's Biggest Bingo Site'.

If you're interested in hearing a little more about Phil and how tombola was formed, there is a great video on YouTube from the Entrepreneur's Forum where Phil explains how the company came to be, it's ethos and why they've been successful. Surprisingly it doesn't mention the Sun Bingo part of their history!