[toc]Frenetic action, eye-popping visuals, non-stop excitement: These aren’t the typical phrases associated with bingo games.
Yet they’re an apt representation of Empire Action, a new 90-ball bingo variant that has popped up on Play SugarHouse in New Jersey.
In a way, it’s only fitting that the Spin Games title has gravitated to SugarHouse. Since the site’s relatively subdued launch in September 2016, it has radically departed from a number of online casino norms.
In that context, Empire Action fits in quite nicely, and here’s why.
What makes Empire Action so different?
The only resemblances between Empire Action and 90-ball bingo variants found on other NJ online casino are the core tenets. Namely, the games feature 90 balls that are called at random, and players have to fill in patterns to win a prize.
But whereas 90-ball bingo on a site like Tropicana Casino is a communal affair, Empire Action is a solitary game. It’s also a significantly faster one, with little downtime between games. In this sense, it’s a closer cousin of video Keno than traditional bingo.
At the beginning of a game players receive four cards with three rows and five columns each (15 numbers). Then, 30 balls are selected at random and displayed on screen. This happens virtually all at once, with just a nanosecond break between calls.
Winning calls are highlighted in red on player cards.
Once the calls are complete, the computer determines the outcome, and payouts are distributed. Players win by matching one of eight predesignated patterns, with simple patterns such as a single line paying out 4x the wager, up to blackouts, which pay a whopping 500x.
Action-oriented players can also purchase seven additional bonus pay lines. These will cost the player an extra ten units on top of the four already wagered to trigger the round. Not only are the bonus pay lines costly, they’re quite a bit more difficult to hit.
To offset the lower payout frequency of the bonus lines, the payout multipliers are set significantly higher. This makes for an overall more volatile (i.e. nail-biting) experience.
Beware of technical gaffes
There is one technical flaw with the software that some players may find crippling. Once the bonus pay lines are activated, there is simply no way to turn them off and revert to the normal pay schedule — at least not from popular browsers such as Google Chrome.
Even logging off and on and clearing the browser’s cache doesn’t remedy the problem. Therefore, players are currently pigeonholed into never turning on the bonus feature or leaving it on permanently.
It’s assumed this gaffe will be rectified in a future update, as it does take diminish the quality of the product significantly.
- Wager denominations are $0.01, $0.05, $0.10, and $0.20 and players can wager between 1 – 10 units at a time. This allows for non-bonus wagers across all four cards starting at $0.04 and capping at $10.
- Factoring in the bonus pay lines, the minimum wager is increased to $0.14, and the maximum to $35.
- Game options include a toggle for sound, a turbo option and a game recall, which allows players to see and display their results for previous rounds.
- Empire Action is available on the Android and iOS versions of the NJ mobile casino software, although the aforementioned technical difficulty persists.
- The return-to-player for this game is listed at 96.44 percent.
It is worth noting that the return for Empire Action is higher than we’d expect for a video bingo product. Similar Keno games offer notoriously low returns, and Spin Games’ video poker games typically rollout somewhat substandard payout tables.
Given this, the high return — which is on par with some of the best slots in the NJ online casino market — comes as a pleasant surprise. However, as we stated previously, the game is quite volatile, especially with the bonus feature activated.
Is Empire Action worth a spin?
Players that enjoy traditional 90-ball bingo, but crave more action and higher potential payouts, will likely take to Empire Action.
The product certainly has its drawbacks, primarily the inability to toggle back and forth between normal and bonus mode. And some players may miss the social aspects and spirit of friendly competition typically associated with online bingo games.
But for those who prefer going head-to-head against a machine, there simply isn’t a better option on the NJ online casino market.