Bingo History, Strategy & Bingo Games

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Bingo History, Strategy & Bingo Games

By Chris Williams

Bingo is a game of chance that is played by several players simultaneously, who are competing not with the house but with one another. There are different versions of Bingo but here we will discuss more about the version that is played commonly in the British Commonwealth. In this version, there is a total of 90 numbers that are used and are called out one at a time by the house. The players on the other side buy tickets which have these numbers printed on them. Tickets are usually sold in pages of six which make for a good combinations set as each ticket has fifteen numbers and with a set of six in the form of a single page, the design ensures that each number appears once in the page and that with each number called one can be marked on the page.

There are several different kinds of ways to win a game of Bingo and they are announced by the house before the game begins. Common types include top line, bottom line, full house etc. To understand better what each one of these means it would be better to first explain the design of a single ticket.

Each ticket has nine columns and three rows. Each column is reserved for numbers from 1-9, 10-19, 20-29, and onwards. This makes for searching of a number when it is called easier for the player. Also each row contains five numbers while the remaining cells are left blank. This way it is easy to make the odds of winning different prizes uniform amongst the players. There is no restriction on how many numbers can be in each column besides the obvious minimum of zero and maximum of three but the numbers in each column are arranged in a manner that the smallest of them is at the top and the largest at the bottom. This is to help allow the players find the numbers easily when they are called especially if they are playing with multiple tickets.

To win any prize in the game of online bingo, one must mark the numbers on his ticket as they are called and then call out when he has marked out all the numbers of a particular prize immediately. It is important to call out for the prize immediately as one of the requirements to win the prize is to have the most recently called out number as a part of the prize that you are claiming. If a player misses the call or is not loud enough to catch the attention of the house and the next number is called he can no longer win that prize although he is still able to win other prizes that are being played for.

To prizes that can be won are top line (crossing out all the five numbers in the top line of any ticket), middle line, bottom line, two lines (crossing out any two lines in any ticket), full house (all three lines), etc. However, houses are free to be inventive and create their own prizes as well such as four corners and a bull indicating the first and last number on the top and bottom lines and the middle number of the middle line. Houses also can create timed prizes which expire if no one wins them within a certain number of calls, one example is the Fast Five in which Five numbers have to be crossed of anywhere on a ticket within the first fifteen numbers that are being called. Another such prize, which generally is also much grander, is the snowball which is used on a regular basis in which the full house has to be won before a certain number of numbers has been called and in case no one wins the snowball the prize for the snowball is added to that of the following period. Prizes can also be given for being unlucky. One such prize is given when the complete house starts the game standing and sits down when all of their tickets have at least one number marked. In this way, the unluckiest person stays standing at the end and can therefore win a prize.

As technology has progressed some houses have also made innovations in the way the game is organized. One such methodology is having automated number generators instead of pulling tiles with numbers written on them from a bag. Another innovation is having serial numbers printed on tickets and verifying whether that serial number could have won when called based on a database record instead of verifying each number called. Another innovation allows for people to play many more tickets than even an expert player can play by allowing them to play on electronics devices and have the device mark out the numbers and only the tickets close to winning being displayed on a screen. In this method the players still has to call out when he wins but he is able to play simultaneously on a lot more tickets.

In comparison to the 90 numbers Bingo that is common in the British Commonwealth, the other version is the 75 numbers Bingo. In this version instead of having a ticket with 9 columns and three rows there is a matrix of five by five. The top of each of the columns has a letter from the word BINGO and each column contains numbers from a subdivision of 15 from the entire range of 75 numbers. Having a subdivision of 15 and not 10 can make it slightly difficult for players who are accustomed to the 90 numbers version to find the numbers being called as quickly. Moreover, due to the different style in which the ticket is structured the prizes to be won are different too. Also there are additional restrictions in terms of how many numbers can appear in a row and a column. In the 90 number version the only restriction is to have five numbers in each row and no limits on the numbers in each column, in the 75 numbers version of Bingo each column has four numbers as well as each row having four numbers. There is however a catch, instead of totaling to 20 there is a blank number in within it which fulfills the condition of counting as a number and therefore there are only 19 numbers on each ticket. Also, unlike the other version where a set of six tickets makes for a complete set of 90 numbers here there is no such similar concept due to the number of numbers present on the ticket.

There is also exists a third form of Bingo, 30 ball Bingo. This form is the shortest version of the game and is played with a three columned and a three rowed card. The winner is arrived at when the player is able to match all the nine numbers on his ticket to those that have been called out. The 30 ball Bingo for its short length is also named as speed bingo. Another form of Bingo that is popular is the 80 ball Bingo. It consists of tickets with four rows and four columns hence, a total of sixteen numbers. As with other versions there are various combinations through which the game can be won. One of the simplest ways to win this is for the player to complete a single line on their ticket. The line here can be of any orientation, a horizontal, vertical or a diagonal one. It is much simpler compared to other games where you might require a combination of specific lines to win.

With time Bingo has also moved on into the online world. Bingo Zone brought the game to the online surface in 1996. The game was launched with a free membership and the owners profited from the regionally targeted advertisements based on the information that the players provided initially for registration. Following the success of online venture other companies sought to profit from this game being offered on the internet. Bingo Blitz launched in 1998 was another famous online initiative. One company that has had played an instrumental role in the development of online Bingo is Parlay Entertainment also operating since 1998. Parlay owns the patents related to the software involved in organizing online Bingo across both United States and Canada. These companies offer both the 90 and 75 versions of the game.

One of the advantages of organizing online Bingo is that it is far much easier to scale now that physical limitations of location size no longer apply. A consequence of that is that it is far much easier to lower the cost per ticket while maintaining attractive prize money. In this way it is also some sort of implicit guarantee to the players that there would be a winner in the house although the true odds for each player get further masked. Internet has enabled people to enjoy this game and its winning from the comfort of their homes. While most of the options online do not require any additional processes and players can play as soon as registering online, however at times players are required to download software that is usually free to play.

One of the unique attributes of online Bingo is that the player can completely automate the process from not only the part where they have to mark the numbers but also the Bingo call. This makes for playing as many tickets as the user wants possible and therefore makes playing Bingo online much more efficient in terms of time requirements from the user as well as free of human errors. Many websites offer additional features such as highlighting and sorting the player’s card based on the closest option to Bingo. As the game has shifted to cyberspace it caters to wide audience and there are many platforms that charge as low as few cents to excusive ones where players buy cards in a large number.

Most of the websites offering online Bingo accept online deposits from players and in turn provide them with bonuses which are usually a percentage of the deposits made. Regarding the legal status in United States of playing Bingo online for money there still is some controversy. In 2006 the US government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which does not allow financial institutes such as banks to accept payments to or from online gambling sites. Therefore it is legal to play Bingo online for US citizens however not for receiving winnings in form of cash. Outside of US, online Bingo is very popular among the British where more than 3 million people actively participate in it. There are many ventures online to capture this market and make profit from this leisure activity; as many as 350 websites have been reported to be doing business so far. Some of the big names in the industry are hall owners of Bingo halls such as Mecca and Gala.

Playing Bingo online allows the owners of the websites access to a much larger community to draw profits from. Multiple sites are set up as a part of a larger network where players from all these sites are playing the same game and the winning prize. This sort of gaming is known as White Label Gaming. While all these websites form a part of the network they are however independently managed.

One of the major advantages of online Bingo is that whereas the in Bingo that is played at places for real, players are refrained from talking as a quite environment is required to hear the ongoing calls for numbers the player playing online are free to talk to each other. Many of these websites encourage the interactions between players by the use of chat systems. The chat features allow the players to connect with each other while playing and exchanging their experiences. The online chat feature fosters a sense of community within these players and they have even come up with acronyms and language specific to the game. It is considered customary for players to congratulate others upon winning and welcoming new members. These chat forms are regulated and monitored to avoid any anti-social behavior. Besides this private chat features are also offered. Many websites automatically load Bingo cards for players so that they can easily stay focused on talking to other. This feature has brought in a social aspect to the game where players specifically women talk to each other while playing. Many view the game as fun activity where they get to socialize and gossip while playing. Capitalizing on the success and the rapid growth of online Bingo, it is also now made available on mobile devices and apps. It is also present on the social networking website Facebook in form of games such as BamBam Bingo and Bingo Island to name a few.


  1. The Gambling Act 2005: A Bet worth Taking. London: TSO, 2012. Print.
  2. Carlisle, Rodney P. Encyclopedia of Play in Today's Society. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2009. Print.
  3. "Ultra Hosting." Ultra Hosting RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.
  4. "Online Bingo: A Very Full House." BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.
  5. "Bingo." Bingo. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.

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