Online Bingo

No longer a pensioners’ pastime, online bingo has brought the game to a whole new audience.

Forget the days of old biddies trekking to the bingo hall on a Saturday night; online bingo is a massive industry that attracts players of all ages and genders. Bingo clients are some of the most popular gambling companies around (particularly in the United Kingdom) and have reinvented bingo for the 21st Century with the addition of linked jackpots and a massive social media presence.

Learn the ins and outs of modern bingo with Right Casino’s comprehensive bingo guide.

About Bingo

Bingo is one of the most popular forms of gambling, and one of the simplest. There’s little skill involved: numbered balls are plucked from a machine and announced, and players identify the numbers on a card. The first player to mark off all the numbers on their card is deemed to have a ‘full house’ and, when playing in bingo halls, are required to yell ‘bingo!’ or ‘house!’ to announce their success. Their card is then checked to see if it has been completed as claimed, and their prize awarded if so.

Some bingo games involve other prizes – such as being the first to complete a complete line of numbers, and also the first to complete two lines. These are awarded for the UK version of the game, in which a bingo card has fifteen numbers arranged in three lines of five.

The US version of bingo has cards with numbers arranged in a 5×5 grid. The central square in the grid is usually a star rather than a number, as is given as a ‘freebie’. Prizes are given for completing the full card, or being the first to complete a line either horizontally, vertically or diagonally, with a special prize if the line includes the central star.

US bingo cards are typically arranged in three 5×5 grids, with all seventy-five numbers in the draw being found somewhere on the card aside from the three that have been replaced by the star symbol. US bingo is also known as 75-ball bingo for this reason, whereas the UK game is known as 90-ball bingo.

’75-ball pattern bingo’ is another variant that has grown in popularity since the advent of online bingo rooms. In this game, players are required to complete a particular ‘shape’, such as a star, or a dollar or a pound sign, in order to win.

80-ball bingo is the other popular game, and is the version often seen at fun-fairs and in amusement arcades in the UK. Numbers are arranged in a 4×4 grid, and prizes are given for four corners, four inner squares, lines and of course, full house. 80-ball bingo cards often come with five 4×4 grids meaning that all 80 numbers are covered.

Aside from bingo cards and a very basic knowledge of mathematics, the only other item needed to play bingo at a ‘serious’ level is a ‘dabber’ – a thick-nibbed felt-tipped pen used to mark off the numbers as they are called.

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The history of bingo

The history of bingo is shrouded in mystery. It’s thought the game originated in Italy in 1530s. Italians were huge lottery fans, and every Saturday there was a bingo-style lottery game called ‘Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia’ which was incredibly popular. The game moved to France in the late eighteenth century where it was called ‘Le Lotto’, but only rich Frenchmen were allowed to play.

The game continued to spread across Europe and eventually reached Germany. However, the Germans thought bingo childish and instead mutated it into a game suitable for teaching children the basics of maths and the alphabet. Each child would be given a board upon which were etched numbers or letters, and the teacher would then read out letters and numbers in sequence which the children would have to find on their boards.

By the time the game moved across the Atlantic to the US, it had become known as ‘beano’, and records suggest it was first played at carnivals in Atlanta, Georgia. A New York toy salesman called Edwin S. Lowe recognised the potential ‘beano’ had as a child’s game, although he renamed it ‘bingo’.

Lowe hired a Columbia University math professor called Carl Leffler to create as many bingo cards as possible. Even though any number drawn during bingo has as much chance of being drawn as any other number, Lowe thought it important that the numbers on any particular card would be seen as ‘randomly spaced’ as any other card, and so sought Leffler’s help. Leffler eventually devised over 6,000 possible bingo cards.

Bingo never enjoyed popularity as a children’s game in the US, however, as it was seized upon by churches as a legitimate fund-raising activity, as most other gambling activities at the time were banned. The bingo craze soon swept a recession-hit United States and, within five years, the number of bingo games being played in the country per week rose from zero to 10,000.

In the UK, bingo grew in popularity as the country began to recover from the ravages of the Second World War. It became a common pastime up and down the country, although it was more popular in the North and the Midlands than in the South, and was more popular with woman than with men who would rather be seen in the local betting shop.

After losing popularity in the 1970s, the game experienced a slight rebirth in the 1980s when several UK newspapers gave away bingo cards and printed a series of numbers over course of the week to be marked off. Winners could expect huge cash windfalls, but most of the newspapers dropped bingo when the National Lottery came along in 1994.

Bingo still enjoyed popularity in the UK until around 2005, when the membership numbers at the likes of Mecca and Gala began to fall. Bingo remains a popular pastime in the UK, but mostly it is now played at online casinos and specialist online bingo sites.

Bingo in popular culture

  • In the US version of bingo, there are 15.52×10^26 possible bingo cards, or 552,446,474,061,128,648,601,600,000 to be exact.
  • Bingo is more popular than any other gambling activity, including casinos, sports betting and card games in many countries. In Argentina, for example, you are much more likely to come across a bingo parlour than a casino or a betting shop.

In UK culture, most people can name a few of the ‘bingo calls’ spoken by bingo callers to announce the drawing of a specific number. Some of the most well-known are:

  • Kelly’s Eye (1) – military slang. Might also have something to do with the helmet sported by Australian bushranger Ned Kelly
  • Knock On The Door (4) – rhyming slang
  • Maggie’s/Tony’s Den (10) – after the Prime Minister’s residence
  • Legs (11) – as the number resembles a pair of legs
  • Key Of The Door (21) – as ’21’ used to be the age in the UK of adulthood
  • Two Little Ducks (22) – from the shape of the numbers
  • Half A Crown (26) – from pre-decimalised currency, two shillings and sixpence
  • Dirty Gertie (30) – from an old song ‘Dirty Gertie at Number Thirty’
  • Was She Worth It? (76) – from the pre-deimalised cost of a marriage licence, seven shillings and sixpence
  • Gandhi’s Breakfast (80) – from the ‘ate nothing’
  • Two Fat Ladies (88) – self explanatory

Bingo at online casinos

A small handful of the biggest, UK-based online casinos offer dedicated bingo rooms. These include TitanBet, William Hill, Gala, 888, BGO and Bet365. Playing in an online bingo room involves finding a suitable game that is about to start, and buying any number of bingo cards for that game up to the maximum permitted.

When your game is about to start, you will be able to enter the bingo room in which the game is being played. You will be told how many other players with bingo cards are in the room with you, which prizes (usually single line, double line and full house) are on offer, and how much cash there is to be won.

You can opt to mark your card yourself, and have it marked automatically. If you choose the first option, it doesn’t matter if you miss a number or two as once your card is close to winning a prize, you will be informed. This usually happens when you have two numbers or one number to go (or ‘2TG’ and ‘1TG’ in online bingo terminology). If you do win, the game will stop and your prize will be announced. If someone else wins then the game will also stop and the prize-winner announced.

You do not have to be online to play a game in which you have bought a ticket. Your card will be marked automatically and if you have won, you will receive notification of your good fortune.

At some bingo rooms, you can chat with your fellow players while you play, and with the bingo callers themselves. This can be done via a text message system or via real audio. All online bingo rooms have a zero-tolerance attitude to any form of abuse or bad behaviour.

Many online casinos have slots-style bingo games you can play, but such games are not popular and are seen as a poor substitute for ‘the real thing’.

How to play bingo

Learn how to play modern bingo – with bigger jackpots and even more ways to play.

A number of live and online gambling operators have given Britain’s favourite game a much-needed shot in the arm with mobile play, social media integration and linked jackpots. Our straightforward bingo guide will run through everything you need to know to get the most out of bingo, on and offline.

How to play

Whether played live in a bingo hall or via the internet, the rules of bingo are much the same.

Buy a ticket

A bingo ticket is a grid containing rows and columns. In traditional 90-ball bingo, a ticket contains 27 squares made up of three rows and nine columns. Each row contains five numbers and four blanks, while a total of 15 numbers appear on every ticket.

Numbers called

In a bingo hall, the ‘caller’ reads out numbers randomly selected via a draw. In virtual bingo games, a random generator produces the numbers. Players cross or circle numbers on their slips when they are announced.

Bingo!

Depending on the bingo variant you are playing, you will win when you complete certain conditions on your ticket (see below). In a bingo hall, you must verbally announce your win (traditionally by shouting ‘bingo!’, or “house!” or “line!” depending on the game and/or the venue). In virtual games, your win is automatically announced by the virtual interface.

Winning tickets

Different bingo variants require different conditions to be met on your bingo ticket, meaning there are numerous ways to win a game of bingo.

Lines

Playing for lines means you will win if you are the first to complete a set number of rows and columns – 90-ball, 80-ball and 75-ball bingo.

4 corners

To win, you must mark off the numbers in the four corners of your ticket – 80-ball bingo.

Middle Squares

Winning tickets complete the four middle squares of a 4×4 grid – 80-ball bingo.

House

Competing for the house means being the first to mark off all numbers on your ticket. In some instances, house games will be community-based. Most progressive jackpots must be claimed with a house.

Bingo variations

There are a number of different ways to enjoy bingo. Play your way with RightCasino.

For purists who enjoy the personal interaction of the bingo hall, traditional live bingo continues to do a roaring trade. Online, there are loads of software bingo games, dedicated bingo networks and games that can be accessed on social media platforms. Learn about the different types of bingo below and decide how you want to play.

Live bingo

Bingo the old-fashioned way: for many players, there’s still nothing that compares to the experience of a live bingo hall.

About live bingo

  • Play takes place in a bingo hall, an establishment which follows many of the same rules that you would expect in a casino (under 18s are barred entry, for instance.)
  • Games are played on paper tickets, with numbers marked using a pen – traditionally a thick, felt-tipped ‘dabber’.
  • A live dealer announces the numbers, either drawing balls from a tombola, operating a number-generator or similar.
  • Players are subject to certain etiquette. For instance, chatter is usually discouraged while a game is running.
  • Wins are announced by players, with winning tickets typically indicated by someone calling out ‘bingo!’, or ‘house! or ‘line!’ depending on the game and/or venue.

Online bingo rooms

Many gambling brands – sometimes casinos, but occasionally dedicated bingo services – run online bingo rooms or ‘clients’. These are web-based bingo games in which real players compete via networked lobbies.

About bingo clients

  • Players sign into a lobby (called a ‘room’) in order to gamble. Sometimes clients are accessed in-browser using JavaScript or Adobe Flash and occasionally via downloaded software.
  • There are no callers. Instead, a random number generator announces winning numbers. Additionally, players do not have to declare wins. Winning tickets are automatically detected and winnings distributed accordingly.
  • Unlike in live bingo halls, players are actively encouraged to chat via an instant messaging function. A ‘Chat Monitor’ (CM) is on hand to maintain a friendly, communal atmosphere.
  • Winnings are managed via eWallet services or direct bank transfers.

Virtual bingo

Some digital bingo games do not involve a network of players. Rather, gamblers are simply playing against a random number generator.

About virtual bingo

  • Virtual bingo consists of fixed-odds, computerised games with an interface based on live bingo.
  • In these games, you are playing alone – a computer generates a virtual ticket and then randomly draws numbers until you win or a time limit elapses.

Social bingo

The presence of bingo games on social media is a modern innovation that has gained immense popularity, providing all the features of a bingo client in free and real-cash variants.

  • Playing bingo on social media is, in some respects, more akin to playing a video game than live bingo, with customisable avatars and ‘power-ups’ available that can help give users an edge.
  • While some bingo games on social platforms play similarly to bingo clients on gambling websites, many are essentially ‘free’ and are monetised with ‘micro-transactions’ wherein players buy, collect and share virtual items and power-ups.

Mobile bingo

Access top bingo clients directly from your mobile device.

A major factor in bingo’s explosive popularity over the past several years has been its success on mobile platforms. Today, millions of gamblers access their favourite bingo clients, participate in communities and – of course – play bingo via their smart devices.

What is mobile bingo?

Mobile bingo is especially popular in the United Kingdom, where tens of millions of pounds are gambled annually via mobile-optimised bingo clients and dedicated bingo apps. Of course, many players also choose to access social bingo games on their phones and tablets, forming another contributory market.

Bingo on mobile devices

There are two types of bingo for mobile devices. There are bespoke bingo games which act like online slots but with bingo as a theme, and traditional bingo hall games where you compete against other players in order to become the first to complete a line, two lines, or a full house. Bespoke bingo games are very difficult to locate when it comes to smart-phones and tablets, and are a poor substitute for the real thing. Bingo hall games are much easier to locate, and offer a great deal more in terms of enjoyment and excitement.

Bingo games can be found at dedicated bingo-only gambling portals, and some online casinos, such as William Hill and Ladbrokes. The general rule seems to be the bigger the name, the bigger the game, so when it comes to finding a mobile bingo bonanza, sticking to names you’ll already be familiar with is not such a bad idea.

How to play bingo on mobile devices

In truth, bingo is such a simple (and fun!) game, porting it to mobile devices was never going to be a programming hardship. Do not expect super sexy graphics though. As bingo in real-world bingo halls is played with paper and a dabber, the interfaces created for use in this game reflect bingo’s unchallenging nature.

To play bingo, you just need to log in to your selected bingo client, and head down to the bingo lobby. From there, you’ll be given an idea of the games available. Just as a reminder, there are three main varieties of bingo to choose from:

  • 90-ball bingo: The traditional form played in the UK. You receive a card containing three rows of five numbers, and the balls drawn are numbered from 1 to 90.
  • 80-ball bingo: The ‘seaside arcade’ form of bingo. You have 16 numbers arranged in a 4×4 square, and the balls drawn are from 1 to 80. Cards can be sold in sets of five, so all 80 possible numbers are covered.
  • 75-ball bingo: The form of bingo popular in the US. Cards have numbers in a 5×5 square with a ‘freebie’ square dead centre. The balls are drawn from 1 to 75. Cards usually come in sets of three, so all 75 numbers are catered for.

The lobby will give you a list of games available, how close they are to starting, how big the current prize fund is, and how much a ticket costs. You can buy multiple tickets for a single game up to the limit specified.

Once you’ve decided on the room you wish to join and have made your purchase, you can enter the virtual bingo hall. Depending on whether you are playing on a smart-phone or tablet, a number (or all) of your cards will be displayed on your screen. The card is marked automatically for you, so during the course of play the card that’s currently performing best for you will ‘float’ naturally to the top of the screen.

Again, depending on the bingo room you’ve joined and the available display space, you may have a chat window as part of your screen. Here the announcer will announce the balls as they are drawn, and in some rooms they will keep you up to date with how everyone is doing. Also, in some rooms you will be able to chat to the caller and to your new bingo buddies. Remember that if you do chat, you need to behave. Your messages are likely to be screened before they are posted anyhow, and if you are abusive or otherwise unpleasant your chat will be disabled, and in extreme cases your account could be terminated and even your ip address banned.

Most bingo games will have multiple prizes. For example, in 90-ball bingo there are usually prizes for the first player to land a complete line, the first to land two lines and the first to complete their entire card. There’s no issue at all with players winning two or even all three prizes.

As bingo is largely an automated game, if you happen to lose your connection while you are playing you will not lose your place in the bingo room. Your card will be completed for you while you are disconnected, and if you are lucky enough to win (but unlucky enough not to be present at your victory) your bankroll will be boosted by your beneficial bingo bonanza.


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