Online bingo guide & best casinos
What comes to mind when you hear someone say 'bingo?' The word has been popularized as an exclamation of joy or excitement following a victory, probably because of its association with one of the world's most popular games—bingo. Although there are several variants of the game (mostly based on location), the overall model is constant: players mark off numbers on a card as they're randomly called out. The first person to achieve a winning combination yells out 'bingo' and claims a prize.
Bingo is a simple game based purely on chance. The earliest reports of the game, or a variant of it, dates back to the first half of the 1500s. Online bingo has come a rather long way from its simple beginnings. Today, it is recognized as one of the most popular games played in churches, homes, charities, luncheons, casinos, and even for free on mobile devices. Fun fact: Back in the 1920s, when the game was still known as 'beano', a friend of Edwin Lowe accidentally shouted out 'bingo' instead of 'beano.' The word stuck around and was what Lowe eventually used for marketing the game.
Best Online Bingo Casinos of 2020
How to Play Bingo?
You'll probably find people in all corners of the world playing bingo. However, based on location, the game can be varied. To put it simply, there are many variants of bingo. However, these variants are either modified versions of the game played in the United States or the one played in the United Kingdom. The game can either be played in land-based casinos or online through websites offering online bingo.
BINGO IN THE UNITED STATES
In the United States, a typical bingo card contains a total of 25 squares on it arranged in five by five rows and columns. Each column corresponds to an alphabet in the name of the game. For example, the first column is termed column B, the second as a column I, and so on. Underneath each column are five numbers, but then at the very center of the card (which would be the third letter down in the N column), there is an unmarked space termed as 'free' space. Numbers are randomized on the cards themselves; however, there is a particular pattern that's being followed:
- For column B: 5 numbers are selected between 1 to 15;
- For column I: 5 numbers are selected from 16 to 30;
- For column N: 4 numbers are selected from 31 to 45;
- For column G: 5 numbers are selected from 46 to 60;
- For column O: 5 numbers are selected from 61 to 75.
Therefore, a typical bingo card has numbers randomly, yet systematically arranged between 1 to 75. This ensures that no two people will have the same card (there are millions of combinations for those 75 numbers). A player is selected as the host who calls out chips or balls from a random generator one by one.
For example, in the United States casinos, the host might call out 'B 13.' Players who have the number 13 will mark that number off in the B column. Players who don't will leave it be. As the game progresses, more and more numbers are called out, some of which might be in column B, some in O, and so on. The first person to get five numbers marked off on his or her card vertically, diagonally, or horizontally calls out 'bingo'. This alerts the host and other players that someone has achieved a combination, and has won the game.
BINGO IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
The British variant features a longer ticket with more spaces. There are nine columns and three rows in a bingo ticket to make a total of twenty-seven spaces on a bingo card. Each row contains a maximum of five numbers, and four spaces have to be left blank. The numbers are arranged as follows:
- For the first column, numbers between 1 to 10;
- For the second column, numbers between 11 to 20;
- For the third column, numbers between 21 to 30;
- For the fourth column, numbers between 31 to 40;
- For the fifth column, numbers between 41 to 50;
- For the sixth column, numbers between 51 to 60;
- For the seventh column, numbers between 61 to 70;
- For the eighth column, numbers between 71 to 80;
- For the ninth column, numbers between 81 to 90.
The maximum number of spaces filled in a row can be three, and the minimum can be zero, at least in the United Kingdom casinos. The game is played in the same manner as in the US variant: a host calls out numbers as they're being generated randomly. Although, in this case, the numbers do not correspond to an alphabet; they are randomly called out from 1 to 90.
Additionally, the winning combinations in the British variant of bingo are different than those found in the US variant:
- Four corner combination: when all four corners of the card are marked off (the first number in the right uppermost, right lowermost, left uppermost, and left lowermost);
- Line: when five numbers in a line are marked off;
- Two lines: when two lines are marked off in the same card;
- Full house: when all fifteen numbers on the card are marked off.
It is interesting to add that there are a total of 552,446,474,061,128,648,601,600,000 or approximately 5.52×1026 combinations for bingo cards in a five by five-card.
As the years went by, this once traditionally land-based game was repurposed and revolutionized as an online or mobile game. Online versions of bingo are gaining popularity because they provide players with an additional factor: comfort. Therefore, several online casinos and bingo websites are now hosting online games.
Players can buy bingo tickets online or play free bingo games on websites offering online bingo games. Different websites offer different tickets, and players are usually required to buy a set of tickets in the lobby before entering an online bingo room. Once inside the room with three to six other players, the game begins. The computer randomly generates numbers and then marks them off on a users' card. It's as easy as that.
HOW TO BUY BINGO TICKETS ONLINE
To enter into an online game of bingo, players are required to purchase bingo tickets from the website hosting the game. This can be done by transferring as little as 1p to a dollar to the website via a payment method or a casino wallet.
These tickets can be purchased similar to how they're purchased in land-based casinos: in the lobby. Online casinos are made to mimic real-life casinos in a flashier way. Therefore, the technicalities of most games usually remain the same, but you're in the comfort of your own home when you're playing them.
WHAT IS HOUSE?
House, or full house, refers to when all the twenty-seven numbers in a game of the British variant of bingo are marked off. A full house game guarantees bigger wins than other combinations such as corners or lines. Players are instructed explicitly that the winning combination will only be achieved if their ticket has all numbers marked—a full house.
WHAT IS A LINE?
A 'line' is a winning combination in bingo cards where an entire row has been marked off. For US variants, the lines can be made horizontally, diagonally, or vertically. For UK variants, the lines can be made vertically or horizontally. Additionally, UK variants of the game might feature 'two lines' on the same ticket as winning combinations. For bingo games hosted in New Zealand, a 'three-line' combination (also known as a super house) is also considered a winning combination.
COMMON BINGO NUMBER CALLS
1 – Kelly’s eye
47 – Four and seven
45 – Halfway there
48 – Four dozen
3 – Cup of tea
49 – PC
4 – Knock at the door
50 – Half a century
5 – Man alive
51 – Tweak of the thumb
6 – Tom mix/Half a dozen
52 – Danny La Rue
30 – Dirty Gertie
56 – Shotts Bus
7 – Lucky seven
54 – Clean the floor
8 – Garden gate
55 – Snakes alive
10 – [Prime Minister’s name]’s den
9 – Doctor's orders
11 – Legs eleven
57 – Heinz varieties
12 – One dozen
58 – Make them wait
13 – Unlucky for some
21 – Key of the door/Royal salute
14 – Valentine’s Day
60 – Five dozen
15 – Young and keen
61 – Baker’s bun
59 – Brighton Line
62 – Turn the screw/Tickety-boo
17 – Dancing queen
63 – Tickle me 63
18 – Coming of age
64 – Red raw
19 – Goodbye teens
65 – Old age pension
20 – One score
66 – Clickety click
16 – Sweet 16 & never been kissed
67 – Stairway to heaven
22 – Two little ducks
68 – Saving Grace
23 – Thee and me
69 – Favourite of mine
24 – Two dozen
70 – Three score and ten
25 – Duck and dive
71 – Bang on the drum
26 – Pick and mix
72 – Six dozen
27 – Gateway to heaven
73 – Queen bee
28 – In a state/Overweight
74 – Hit the floor
29 – Rise and shine
75 – Strive and strive
53 – Stuck in a tree/Here comes Herbie
76 – Trombones
31 – Get up and run
77 – Sunset strip
32 – Buckle my shoe
78 – 39 more steps
33 – Dirty knee/Fish, chips & peas/All the threes
79 – One more time
34 – Ask for more
80 – Eight and blank
35 – Jump and jive
81 – Stop and run
36 – Three dozen
82 – Straight on through
37 – More than eleven
83 – Time for tea
38 – Christmas cake
84 – Seven dozen
39 – 39 steps
85 – Staying alive
40 – Life begins
86 – Between the sticks
41 – Time for fun
87 – Torquay in Devon
42 – Winnie the Pooh
88 – Two fat ladies
43 – Down on your knees
89 – Nearly there
44 – Droopy drawers
90 – Top of the shop
'Kelly's eye' is a reference to Australian folk hero, Ned Kelly. 'Doctor's orders' refers to a pill prescribed by doctors during World War II, a powerful laxative. 'Royal salute' is a reference to a 21-gun salute, and 'Key of the door' pays homage to the fact that most children are expected to move out of their parental homes at the age of 21. 'Danny La Rue' pays tribute to a popular Irish musician. 'Gandhi's breakfast' is a play on words: 8 for ate and 0 as in nothing.
The most common terms used in bingo are either rhymes or pay homage to popularized terms.
TYPES OF BINGO GAMES
There are vseveral types of bingo games out there. Let's have a look at the most common.
90-ball bingo is the name given to the UK variant of the game, on account of there being a range of 90 numbers in their tickets (as opposed to US variants with 25). The game is played on tickets with 3 rows and 9 columns and a maximum of 27 spaces being filled on each ticket (5 spaces in rows, three maximum in columns).
Each game of 90-ball bingo gives players three different chances to win: the first win for filling all 5 numbered squares in any one line straight across, the second for completing two lines, and the third for completing all three lines (usually called a 'full house').
- One-line wins: when 5 numbers are marked off in a row.
- Two-line wins: when a row and a column or two columns are marked off in the same ticket.
- Full house wins: when all 15 numbers are marked off on the ticket.
80-ball bingo is relatively unknown to many bingo players, and that's because it's only recently been introduced. 80-ball games are played on tickets with 16 numbers arranged in a 4x4 grid, and columns are color-coded. Winning combinations are either based on line wins (as in 90-ball bingo) or pattern combination wins (as in 75-ball bingo).
- Line wins: players can win by marking off horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines.
- Pattern wins: a predetermined winning pattern combination is announced before each game begins.
A 75-ball ticket has a five by five pattern with each column being headed by alphabets in the word BINGO. The 'B' column has numbers 1 to 15, the 'I' column contains numbers 16 to 30, and so on. There is a space right in the center of the card that is free. This doesn't have any number on it and is counted as already being covered. This is the US variant of bingo.
- Coverall: all 24 numbers on a player's card are marked off.
- Line wins: players win by covering a complete horizontal, vertical or diagonal line on their card.
- Bingo pattern wins: —a pattern or shape will be declared at the start of the game, and players aim to cover their numbers to make this pattern on the card. There are many different pattern wins available, including crosses, chevrons, and diamonds.
Given the fact that bingo is a game based purely on chance, it might come as a surprise to many to hear that there are seasonal and experienced players of the game who have devised strategies of their own to optimize their chances at winning.
- Never sleep on a bingo: bingo might sound tiresome to many, and that's because while some games may end in minutes, others can last for hours. It depends on when a person yells out bingo. However, there is the probability of a player dozing off and forgetting to yell the term, even after marking off a winning combination. If this happens, the winning combination is disregarded.
- Mark patterns: experienced players will tell you it's always a good idea to bring a highlighting pen or a marker with you when you go out for a night of bingo. This is because it makes the player more attentive and alerts them towards which patterns are closer to winning combinations.
- Bring backups: in some land-based bingo competitions, players are required to bring along their bingo books. If you frequent such events, always make sure to bring backup cards with you.
- Statistics: this applies to both online and land-based bingo. While the game might be based purely on luck and chance, players can optimize their winnings if they statistically calculate which areas or games have a larger win ratio. After all, when it's about chance, your best bet is to go for ratios.
One of the biggest upsides to playing bingo online instead of in a hall is the numerous bonuses offered for playing the game by the website hosting it. These bonuses serve as incentives for players to play more games and frequent their websites more often.
- Sign-up bonuses: sign-up bonuses are probably the first types of bonuses users are met with when they visit a site. The purpose of these bonuses is fairly straightforward: to get you (the player) to join their website and put in a deposit. These bonuses can either be redeemed as one-time offers or are a part of a welcome package for multiple sessions. It is important to go over the site's terms and conditions to understand just what you're signing up for, and what conditions you will need to meet to get the full benefit of the bonus. Some bonuses come with very high wagering requirements that make them less appealing. It's also worth noting that these requirements have to be reached BEFORE you can withdraw any of your winnings.
- Cashback bonus: sometimes, websites offer players a way to earn back a portion of their losses in the form of a cashback bonus. The website will deposit a percentage of your losses to your account to compensate for any losses during that bonus period. The percentages are usually between 5 to 10% and are made weekly.
- Referral bonuses: this is quite easily the most common incentive given by any website when securing sales and encouraging customers (in this case, players) to return to their website. A referral bonus in an online bingo game is a reward given to players each time they bring new players on to their site. Some websites have a set criterion to be met before a player can redeem a bonus, such as a set number of referrals, a set number of deposits, etc.
- Email joining bonus: players who provide their email addresses and sign up for newsletters from online bingo hosting websites (which includes schedules and other offers) are given bonuses and exclusive invites to free games, tickets for prize drawings, and special tournaments.
A bingo jackpot is a prize besides a full house (or any other winning combination) prize, usually multiplied and only available online. There are several jackpots to choose from, such as:
- Fixed jackpots;
- Progressive jackpots;
- Side game jackpots.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ONLINE BINGO AND LAND-BASED BINGO
From its humble origins in Italy in the 1530s to how we play it today, bingo has come a long way with several different variants of the game being picked up all over the world. Today, online bingo is gaining traction for all the right reasons: comfort and ease. There are many differences between playing free bingo online or online bingo games compared to playing the game in a land-based setup.
- Online bingo is usually played by single-players, whereas traditional or land-based bingo is played by multiple people. Therefore, online bingo requires no time, place, or invite, and land-based bingo is often organized as an event, charity, or activity.
- Players for land-based bingo usually have a bingo book that they carry around with them for games. The book contains different bingo cards to be played at games. On the other hand, players are required to purchase bundles of cards, or single cards each time they play online. This is done at the game's lobby.
- In a traditional bingo game, if a player misses his or her turn to yell out bingo, he or she misses the opportunity to win. This is referred to as 'sleeping' on a winning combination. This is not a problem in online games given how the computer is usually in auto-play mode and marks off numbers as they appear right then.
- Online games have a feature known as ‘Best Card Sorting’ or ‘Best Card Highlighting.’ This is where the computer will sort your cards into order so that the card that has the greatest chance of winning will remain on the top for you to keep an eye on. Needless to say, land-based bingo doesn't come with this option.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BINGO AND KENO
Keno is another popular game of chance with a history that traces back further than that of bingo—all the way to Ancient China. Keno, as it's played today, is still somewhat similar to its original format. A ticket is generated, and players randomly mark off 10 to 20 numbers on their tickets (depending upon casino specifications). There are a total of 80 numbers on a usual keno card.
- Bingo cards have a random array of numbers, thereby ensuring that no two people have the same card. However, in keno, two people need to have the same layout on their tickets. Bingo cards have 25 or 15 numbers randomly assigned yet specifically placed on their cards, but keno cards have numbers ranging from 1-80 chronologically arranged on the card.
- As the host calls out numbers from a random generator, bingo players mark them off on their cards. Keno cards are pre-marked by players, and a copy of it is handed back to the casino employee. The numbers in keno are called out much later.
- A winning combination is a predetermined combination on a bingo card (horizontal, vertical, diagonal, corners, full house, etc.), while keno cards do not have a winning combination, just winning numbers. There's a 1 in 3,535,316,142,212,174,320 chance of all 20 numbers on a keno card marked by a player being hits, which is why winning tickets are based on the number of hits rather than the totality. Check out some of the best online casino bonuses for this game.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BINGO AND SLINGO
Players might be at a loss of words when asked to differentiate between bingo and Slingo. That might be because the name of the game Slingo is a play on the words 'bingo' and 'slots.' Essentially, Slingo is a casino game, an online game, or a mini-game that combines elements of traditional bingo with slot machines, thereby making the game solely a single player one if need be.
- Slingo cards are usually arranged in a three by three manner with a number being assigned to each space. Bingo cards, on the other hand, have larger tickets with a minimum of 24 to 27 spaces on their cards and are 5 by 5 or 9 by 3, respectively.
- Slingo features special characters such as The Joker, Special Joker, The Devil, and Gold Coins. These symbols are characters that appear on the slot machine and give users options to mark off numbers per their discretion. Bingo only features numbers, and no special characters are traditionally used.
- Since Slingo is played on a slot machine, the game runs out after 16 to 20 slots. The first 16 spins on the machine are usually free, but other spins have to be paid for. Bingo can go on and on without additional money being put down (if any at all) unless someone yells out bingo.
- In bingo, each column has to have numbers from a sequence of numbers allotted to that column. There is no such pattern in Slingo. However, the free slot machine reels correspond to one grid on a Slingo ticket.
BEST BINGO SITES
Bingo sites are gaining popularity and for all the right reasons. However, with so many websites offering online bingo games, it might get a little overwhelming for people who are just looking for safe and legit websites to enjoy a good game on. Here are some of the best bingo hosting sites players are most likely to frequent and swear by:
- Mecca Bingo;
- Robinhood Bingo;
- The Sun Bingo;
- Costa Bingo;
- Dear Bingo;
- Coral Bingo;
- Tombola Bingo;
- Buzz Bingo;
- 888 Ladies;
- Gala Bingo;
- Foxy Bingo;
- BGO Bingo;
- Lucky Pants Bingo;
- Ladbrokes Bingo.
How do you win at bingo?
Bingo is a game of chance. There are millions upon millions of probabilities that the host calls out, and the chances of you lucked out on every call are quite nearly impossible. Notwithstanding that bingo is a game of chance, seasonal players try to optimize and further their chances of winning by staying alert, bringing backups, highlighting patterns, making calculated guesses over which websites have higher win ratios, etc. Again, bingo is based on luck, but you can still make calculated assumptions to better your shots.
Is bingo legal to play online?
It is completely legal to play online bingo games. There are authoritarian bodies (such as the National Lottery in the UK) that regulate online casinos or bingo hosting websites to ensure they aren't a scam. Playing the game in itself is perfectly legal.
Is online bingo fair?
Yes and no, some websites might give certain users an extra edge against incentives (higher investments) by the players themselves. Also, bonus features have to be paid for in some cases such as Best Card Sorting or Highlighting. This is seen as an unfair advantage by many. On the upside, these tactics do not guarantee wins; they just optimize chances but are still open to failing.
Are bingo bonuses worth taking?
Depending on whether or not you plan to frequent an online bingo hosting site, whether you feel like the site's algorithm is one you can work around, and whether or not the bonus offered is one that might actually be helpful to you.
This page was written in 2015 and is now maintained by Daniel Hardman. Should you have any questions or see any discrepancies on this page, feel free to reach out to him. The casino list at the beginning of the page is revised each month, to ensure we only offer the best casino sites with roulette to our readers. Let's have a look at some handpicked references you may find interesting.
- Bingo - American version (Wikipedia)
- Bingo - British version (Wikipedia)
- How to play Bingo (Youtube - Unibet)
- Why bingo is a secret casino jackpot (Forbes)
Other categories - How to play:
- Online Roulette
- Online Blackjack
- Online Baccarat
- Online Craps
- Online Three Card Poker
- Online Video Poker
- Online Scratch Cards
- Online Lottery
- Online Keno
- Online High Roller Games
- Online Casino Hold'em