Bingo is one of the easiest games to play, which is also why it’s among the most popular. You don’t need any strategies or techniques to win—just pure chance. However, you should be aware of all of the rules to keep your bingo playing experience more enjoyable and eventually ensure that all of your future wins are valid.
So, you want to master playing bingo but are still unsure of the rules? Well, this article will help you with that. Here, you will be going over all the terminologies, dos & don’ts, and regulations to understand the game and play better.
Main Elements of a Bingo Game
There is more to a bingo game than just the marker and the card. Knowing more about these things would help you out a lot.
The balls decide the sequence of numbers in a bingo game, as each ball has a corresponding number. Depending on the type of game, the number of balls used may vary. For example, in American bingo, they play with the 75-ball format with balls from 1 to 75. On the other hand, the British version has more variations, including the main 90-ball game, 80-ball, 40-ball, etc.
Traditional bingo halls use a machine with a manual spinner or a blower that keeps shuffling the balls to ensure they come out randomly. However, electronic random number generators are now available to automate the process.
Tickets, Cards & Slips
A physical bingo card is flat and usually made of cardboard or regular paper. Similar to the number of balls, the format of the tickets is also different with every bingo game type.
A 75-ball bingo card has a 5×5 grid with 25 squares containing numbers from 1 to 75. The top of the card should have the letters B, I, N, G, O, and each corresponds to a column. The ‘B’ column only contains numbers between 1 to 15 inclusive, the ‘I’ column only has 16 through 30, ‘N’ contains 31 through 45, ‘G’ goes through 46 up to 60, and ‘O’ contains 61 through 75. In addition, the free space in the middle of the whole card is considered marked. Players can buy multiple, often an unlimited number, of cards.
In contrast, a 90-ball bingo card looks entirely different from a strip of a 9×3 grid. Each of the three rows has five numbers, with every column having up to three digits. The columns also have a corresponding set of numbers. The first column contains numbers from 1 to 9; the second has 10 to 19; the third with 20 to 29. It goes up to the last column with numbers from 80 to 90. Altogether, a classic ticket should have 27 squares with 15 numbers and 12 blank spaces. For 90-ball bingo, tickets are usually made in strips of six.
Generally, the fewer balls the game has, the smaller the grid on the card. British bingo’s 30-ball game uses a ticket with a 3×3 grid with nine random numbers from 1 to 30. It is one of the newest game types and currently the fastest to play.
It is also important to remember that every bingo establishment and website implements policies on the number of maximum cards or tickets a player can purchase for every game. Of course, the more cards you have, the better the chances of winning.
There are different winning patterns in bingo. The most common way to win is by completing lines, which applies to most bingo games, especially with 90-ball bingo. When playing this format, you can have four chances to call bingo on every game:
- Four corner win – mark off the numbers on the four corners
- Line win – mark off one horizontal line
- Two-line win – mark off two horizontal lines
- Full house – mark off all rows or all fiften numbers
In 80-ball and 75-ball bingo, you have more ways to win as it accepts line wins, including horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines, and several other patterns. The most popular designs include x-mark, four corners, large square, center cross, and coverall or blackout. The last one is commonly the required pattern for jackpots, as you need to mark every number on your card. There are also bingo organizers who create new designs specifically for their club to spice up the game. Usually, the caller will announce and display the winning pattern/s before every session.
Jackpots refer to the grand prize, usually a larger sum of money than regular prizes. However, players can only win these whopping prizes under specific circumstances or conditions, which is why they are harder to achieve, but they sure make the games more exciting.
The bingo organizers or managers often set these terms. Some jackpots can be won by marking special patterns, while some set a specific number of balls where players should declare bingo to qualify for the vast pot money. There is no guarantee that a player can win the jackpot for every session with these conditions in order.
There are three types of bingo jackpots:
- Fixed jackpot – the prize money is fixed beforehand as well as the specific pattern to win it.
- Progressive jackpot – the pot money continuously grow as the games progress and there are no declared winners. It resets after someone wins.
- Escalator jackpot – it can be won within a specific number of balls drawn. As players fail to win it every game, the ball limit and prize money both increases, also increasing the chances of winning.
A dauber is a unique ink marker with a large round flat tip used to mark the numbers on your cards. They are often played with paper tickets instead of ones made out of cardboard. Daubers come in different colors and sizes, and they make marking cards faster and more convenient.
A caller or host is a person who calls out the numbers as it gets out of the machine. Although being a caller may seem easy, it still requires a certain set of announcing skills and professionalism, especially since you have to be familiar with all the calls and lingos.
Calls refer to the number of balls required to win the jackpot. However, in British bingo, calls are also the nicknames or lingos the bingo caller uses to creatively announce the numbers as they are drawn, like coming of age for number 18, two dozen for number 24, and top of the shop for 90.
Rules of Bingo
To start playing, you have to purchase a bingo card. Although the rules of the game are straightforward, there is crucial information you have to remember, which will help you call out “BINGO!” in the end and earn prizes.
How To Play Bingo
Nowadays, you may play bingo in two ways: online at bingo websites or offline at casinos and bingo halls. Either way, the rules are usually the same as traditional bingo.
1. Join a licensed UK bingo room
Before betting your money and playing, you have to ensure that the bingo room you are about to join is licensed under the UKGC or the UK gambling committee. They should show indicators of any form of licensure and certification as proof. In case your bingo hall or website doesn’t have these displayed, make sure to contact their customer support and verify. You can also check Gambling Commission’s website to look for authorized online and offline bingo establishments. Aside from licenses, other factors can help you determine if the bingo room is legitimate, like its reputation, range of games they offer, quality of websites, and more.
2. Buy bingo tickets
The more tickets you buy with bingo, the more chances you have to win the prizes. When playing in bingo halls, make sure to purchase the number of cards you can comfortably play with and dab. It is always better for beginners to start with a few cards and increase from there.
It can be a bit different with online bingo games. Since everything is automated and the system can conveniently mark every number as they are called, you can buy as many cards as you want. Of course, it’s best to start small just to feel how the game works. Once you’re comfortable with the website and the game, you can begin maxing out the ticket limit.
3. Mark called numbers
Marking off your cards in online bingo games wouldn’t be a problem since you can set it on autoplay and let the computer do everything for you. Now the challenge will be on those who play in physical bingo halls. You can’t expect the caller to wait for you to finish marking your cards, which is why you need to purchase the number of tickets you know you can cover. Properly listen to the calls and dab the correct numbers to avoid invalid or overlooked wins. The best way to cover your cards is by using a dauber.
4. Form a winning pattern
Winning patterns will set the pattern the player has to complete to win the prize money. For 90-ball bingo, one-line, two-lines, and three-lines or full house are the generic winning patterns for every game. In other game types’ cases, such as 80-ball, 75-ball, and 40-ball bingo, there are many ways to win. The caller will usually announce the specific pattern the players have to achieve before the game.
5. Cashout earnings
And once you win and finally call out “Bingo!” the last thing you have to do is cash out your earnings. It can be the accumulated sum of all the money you won, including the jackpot. You just have to make sure before playing that the website or the bingo club cater to your choice of withdrawal option.
Types of Bingo Games
There are several bingo game types that players regularly enjoy to switch things up now and then. Although the mechanics are the same, these games vary in ticket formats and winning patterns. Here are the most common types:
British Bingo (90-Ball)
90-ball bingo is mainly played in the UK. This game uses 90 balls, and a 9×3 bingo ticket with 15 numbers split into three rows of 5. Each of the nine columns has designated numbers: 1 to 9, 10 to 19, 20 to 29, and up to the last column with 80 to 90. The number one advantage of British bingo is that there are three prizes up for grabs for every game. The first person to complete a row or four corners gets the first line win. The one who will cover two lines is the second winner. And lastly is the full-house win given to the winner who has successfully marked all 15 numbers.
American Bingo (75-Ball)
The American version of bingo is the 75-ball game and is the most known variation worldwide. Its bingo card is a 5×5 grid with 24 numbers and a “free space” center. At the top of the columns are the letters B, I, N, G, and O, and every column has a corresponding number range: 1 to 15, 15 to 30, up until the last row with 60 to 75. The game has several winning patterns, including lines (diagonal, horizontal, vertical), L-shape, X-shape, four corners, T-shape, blackout or coverall, and a lot more. Some bingo clubs create custom patterns that are unique to them to add more fun to the game. A player just has to complete the design assigned for the game, which the caller will announce beforehand.
80-ball bingo is a slightly smaller version of the 75-ball game. It plays with a 4×4 grid ticket with 16 numbers. Instead of letters, each column is color-coded. Columns are also designated with sets of numbers: 1 to 20, 2 to 40, and so on up to the fourth column with 60 to 80. Winning this game type is also the same as American bingo, where there are several patterns you can achieve. The caller can also assign one or multiple winning patterns to every game.
On the other hand, 40-ball bingo is one of those fast-paced sessions. In this game, the cards only have two rows and four spaces, each with corresponding digits, with a total of eight numbers on each ticket. One ticket corresponds to one strip, and bingo organizers often package them as a strip of five, which can also help increase your chances of winning. With four columns, each column has assigned numbers: 1 to 10, 11 to 20, 21 to 30, and 31 to 40. Players must cover either four squares, one line, or a full house to win.
Mini Bingo (30-Ball)
30-ball bingo is a newer type of bingo. This game is excellent if you want to play a few quick, easy games. However, mini bingo games often only happen between main sessions. Its card has a 3×3 grid with nine random numbers from 1 to 30. The first one to cover all nine numbers wins the prize.
Types of Bingo Locations
Now, here are locations or ways to get started on playing bingo. These mediums are accessible as long as you have a phone or the time to visit casinos or clubs.
Online Bingo Sites
Over the years, online bingo sites have become more popular and are now preferred by several bingo players. It is very convenient, especially for those who want to enjoy a game or two occasionally but don’t have the time to visit clubs and casinos. Additionally, online bingo websites offer a fully automated service where players can enjoy the sessions and winnings without much effort. They allow you to purchase several cards or even max out the ticket purchase limit, which will enable you to maximize your chances of winning. The system will then automatically mark your numbers as they are called and notify you if there’s a winning card. Aside from the convenience, online bingo sites also provide promos, bonuses, and large payouts. Starting out playing online is also less expensive than physical games.
The main downside of online bingo gaming is the possibility of getting scammed by fake websites. This is why any player needs to know how to recognize both real and fake online bingo sites. Online bingo can also become quite addicting since you can just keep depositing and betting your money without anyone stopping you.
Mobile Bingo Apps
Mobile bingo apps are just like their website counterparts. However, playing your regular sessions can now be done through your mobile phone with bingo apps. You just have to download it and set up your account, and you can start playing, even on the go. They also offer multiple bonuses, which you can take advantage of to reduce any risks, especially when you’re trying it out for the first time. You can easily recognize the legitimate ones with mobile apps since you can access user reviews on Google Play or App Store.
However, if you’re used to playing in bingo sites, you may notice over time that the experience will not be the same. It will also take ample storage on your phone and heavily relies on the internet to continue playing.
Players who love interacting with others while playing will always prefer bingo halls. Nothing beats the traditional way of daubing your cards as an experienced caller announces each number while you socialize with other players. The atmosphere also becomes competitive and thrilling, which many people really enjoy.
But it also has its disadvantages. Playing bingo physically and purchasing actual cards can be a lot more expensive since they cost more. There is also a limit on how many cards you can buy. Of course, daubing numbers manually is also more challenging, so you need to purchase the number of tickets you can cover. It will require your full attention and energy.
Bingo clubs are just like bingo halls. They provide the same experience with actual callers and playing with physical cardboard or paper cards. It is important to remember to verify the license and reputation of the club before joining to make sure that they’re legitimate.
Must-Know Bingo Terms
If you want to get better at playing bingo, you have to learn about the terminology used in the game by both players and operators.
|Admission Packet||The minimum number of cards that a player must purchase|
|Blackout / Coverall / Full-house||A bingo pattern that covers all the numbers on your card|
|Break open||Another name for a pull tab or an instant bingo ticket|
|Coin board (merchandise board)||A game board containing coins or merchandise as prizes|
|Consolation Prize||The prizes are offered in some special games if there is no winner|
|Cut||A sheet of bingo faces cut from the master sheet|
|Deal||Each different game or series of pull tabs has the same serial number.|
|Early Bird Game||An early-bird bingo game is a bingo game that starts before another regularly scheduled game|
|Flare Card||A card is included with each deal of instant bingo or pull-tab tickets|
|Face||The part of the bingo card when you mark the sequences|
|Hard Card||A reusable card|
|Instants||Pull-tabs that pay the prizes immediately|
|Lucky Jar, Cookie Jar||The container to put the cash prize in a local game|
|Line||Successfully marking one row|
|Money ball||A number drawn before the game will double a player’s winnings|
|Two lines||Successfully marking two rows|
Bingo Rules: FAQ
Answers to common questions about the rules of online bingo.
How many bingo variations are there?
There are now numerous bingo variations worldwide, but there are five most common and popular ones: 90-ball (British), 75-ball (American), 80-ball, 40-ball, and 30-ball.
Are the rules different between 90-ball and 75-ball Bingo?
The basic rules for both 90-ball and 75-ball games are the same. Their main differences are the type of card used and the winning patterns. For 90-ball, you can win with four corners, one-line, two-lines, and full house. While with 75-ball bingo, there are numerous patterns you can achieve to win.
Is there a time limit to a game of bingo?
No, there is no time limit in bingo. The game ends once a player completes the required pattern and wins the game. However, each game often lasts less than 10 minutes on average.
Can a player cheat in a game of bingo?
As with any game, there are reported cases of cheating in bingo games, and it often involves switching or faking tickets. However, any form of cheating will not be tolerated and strictly dealt with by the organizers.
Is Online Bingo allowed in the UK?
In the United Kingdom, online bingo and other types of online gambling are legal, regulated, and controlled. The UKGC or the UK Gambling Commission is responsible for licensing, supervising, and regulating casino gaming laws in Great Britain.