Bingo has been one of the most popular gambling games throughout history. 20 years ago, in 1998, over $7 billion was wagered on bingo, and the game has only grown in popularity since then.
One of the funny things about bingo is that the casino might be the best place to play the game. That’s because casinos offering bingo often offer the game at a loss or at a break-even point. They’re more concerned with attracting players to their slot machines, which are, of course, hugely profitable.
In fact, if you find a casino offering bingo, you can expect their bingo games to happen at various intervals rather than constantly. That’s part of how they motivate gamblers to try their other games.
This post offers information about the game of bingo in general and how it’s played in the United Kingdom, the United States, and online.
We also offer a list of the best bingo halls online right here, in case you want to get started:
Best Bingo Sites 2020
Bingo in the United Kingdom is one of the most popular gambling games in the United Kingdom, although its popularity has started to wane there over the last couple of decades. Still, you’ll find over 400 bingo halls in Britain.
How does bingo work in the United Kingdom?
It’s a game of chance where you get a card with numbers on it. A caller draws numbers at random from the front of the room, and you mark those numbers off as they’re called. If you’re the first gambler to mark off all a specific pattern on your card. These patterns vary from game to game.
It’s similar to bingo in the United States, but it uses 90 balls instead of 75, and you’ll notice subtle differences in the ticket layouts and how the games are run.
A UK bingo card has 27 spaces printed on it in a 9X3 grid. Each of the 3 rows has 5 numbers, leaving 4 of the other spaces blank. The columns have between 0 and 3 numbers in them, and the numbers are organized in a specific way:
In column #1, you have numbers between 1 and 9 (or 10).
In column #2, you have numbers between 10 and 19 (or 11 and 20).
And, in column #3, you have numbers between 20 and 29 (or 21 and 30).
You probably get the idea by now – the columns continue like this until you get to column #9, which, naturally, has numbers from 80 (or 81) to 90.
You can buy 6 cards at a time and be guaranteed to mark off a space every time someone calls a number. This doesn’t make the game more profitable for you, but it does increase the action, which is exciting.
United States Bingo
Bingo in the United States is similar to bingo in the UK, but there are some major differences to be aware of. It’s still a game where you buy cards with numbers on them, and you still have a caller at the front of the room drawing numbers at random for you to mark off.
One of the big differences is the number of balls in an American bingo game – you have 75 numbers instead of 90.
The other big differences is the layout of the card. An American bingo cards has the word “bingo” across the top of it, with each letter corresponding to a column of numbers: B – I – N – G – O.
Column B has 5 numbers in it from 1 through 15.
Column I has 5 numbers in it, too, from 16 through 30.
And column N has 5 numbers in it, too, from 31 to 45.
And so on…
This version of bingo was invented in 1929 and is hugely popular even with segments of the population that frown on gambling in general.
The traditional bingo is just a row of 5 numbers that have been called, whether those numbers be diagonal (2), horizontal (5), or vertical (5).
But different bingo halls use a variety of different patterns to make the game more exciting.
You can buy multiple bingo cards at most bingo halls in the United States.
No matter where you play bingo in the United States, you’ll need to verify your “bingo” with the caller and one other person (an attendant).
Both UK and US versions of bingo are available to play online at various sites. You can usually choose from either the 90-ball or 75-ball version when you decide which game to play. Also, these games are usually played in a chat room, so you can socialize with the other bingo fans while you play.
Online bingo halls work much like online casinos, and they have many of the same safeguards for gamblers in place. For example, most legit online bingo sites offer parental controls and the ability to set your own loss limits.
If you’ve ever played online poker, you’ll be familiar with the idea of creating a unique screen name to use while you’re playing. You buy virtual, animated bingo cards with the option to automatically mark your numbers as they’re called. (This is called “auto dab.”)
Before you can buy bingo cards, you do need to make a deposit with the bingo hall. Most people just use a credit card for this, but other deposit methods exist, including online wallets and even Bitcoin. Finding the screen to make a deposit is usually easy, as the bingo hall relies on deposits to make their profits. Just look for the cashier in the navigation scheme for the bingo hall.
Bingo games online work like online poker tournaments – they’re on a set schedule. You can find the games available in the lobby area of the bingo website. This screen includes information about the games available, their buy-ins, and how many players are signed up.
When you go into a virtual bingo room, you’ll choose how many cards you want to play, and the funds will be deduced from your account accordingly.
Chat is a big part of the online bingo experience, so enjoy your participation in that. Legit online bingo halls also have moderators to make sure that the chat doesn’t get out of hand. It’s important to be friendly and polite with your fellow bingo players.
On some bingo sites, you get chances to win more money just by participating in the chat.
How Bingo Jackpots Work
No matter which kind of bingo hall you’re playing at – UK, US, or online – you’ll usually see games with one of the following kinds of jackpots:
A community jackpot in bingo is one with a progressive jackpot, but also one in which everyone playing gets some money when someone hits that jackpot. A community jackpot is similar to a bad beat jackpot in poker.
A fixed jackpot is a game where the prize amount is set. If you’re playing in a bingo game with a $1000 prize, then you’re playing in a fixed-jackpot game.
A progressive jackpot should be familiar to anyone who’s played a lot of slot machines. The progressive jackpot grows over time as more people play in the game. Once the progressive jackpot gets hit, the starting amount is reset to its default and starts growing again.
Other Bingo Variations
With online bingo, especially, you’ll often find variations besides the 90-ball and 75-ball games.
One of these is 80-ball bingo, which has a card with a 4X4 grid on it. The columns are traditionally in 4 different colors, and the patterns are similar to the patterns in traditional 75-card bingo.
How to Win at Bingo
Bingo is not a game of skill; it’s purely a game of chance. This means there’s not much you can do to improve your probability of winning. Still, I have some tips to offer:
If you want to play in a specific game with a huge jackpot online, buy your tickets in advance. Sometimes cards for these games sell out. By pre-buying tickets for the big jackpot games, you ensure that you’re still in on the action.
If you’re interested in winning a big jackpot, stick with the games offering the big jackpots. There’s no point in wasting your time playing for jackpots you don’t really care about. So just stick with the games with the biggest jackpots.
Learn how to calculate the probability of winning. Since there’s no skill involved, every bingo card has the same probability of winning as any other. All you need to calculate the probability of winning is the number of cards sold. If you’re playing in a game where 300 cards have been sold, and you have one of those cards, you have a 1 in 300 probability of winning.
To increase your probability of winning, by multiple cards. If you have 300 cards in a game, and you’ve bought 3 of them, your probability of winning increases from 1 in 300 to 1 in 100. This doesn’t change the expected value of the game, though, because you have more money invested – you have to pay for each card.