From 90-ball in your local club to playing 75-ball bingo online – Scroll your EYES DOWN for an insight into the wonderful world of bingo
- Bingo halls
- The difference between tickets and electronics
- Specials at book sales desk
- Prize money
- House rules
- Managing your budget
- Mini games
- Playing bingo online
- Bingo chat rooms
- 90 ball and 75 ball (Online bingo only)
- Depositing and withdrawing funds from your online bingo account
- Setting your limits and playing responsibly
- Enjoy Your Bingo!
Bingo has long been the nation’s favourite game. Played in village halls for years, and in the past decade has grown significantly and changed the way people play bingo.
The days of playing for a pound, gathering in the local village hall for a friendly get together over a game of prize bingo, and sometimes cash games with £5 jackpots are long gone.
According to statistics made available by the Gambling Commission, the bingo game accounts for 10% of the UK gambling sector. A £1.2BN industry with local bingo clubs being controlled by just two companies…
1. Gala Bingo
2. Mecca Bingo
Nowadays; jackpots can be in the thousands because of the advancements to the technology used in large chain bingo clubs around the nation, allowing them to link together as many as 30 clubs for one game.
Both those companies have hundreds of clubs and in certain games, the clubs link together to pool the prize money and create bigger winnings for everyone.
Online bingo is even bigger business; more chances of winning and an even higher chance that you will lose money if you aren’t careful.
Bingo is gambling, so the only way to have fun with it is to play responsibly. Never play with money you can’t afford to lose.
The game is for entertainment purposes only! Of course, it’s great to get a win, but that’s the bonus after the fact you get the day out, or a break from household chores if you’re playing online.
Whether you play in your local club or online, you must know that bingo is like any other form of gambling. It’s a game of probability so you have to be careful you don’t let all the buzz get you too excited.
Despite many a person playing bingo regularly, there are still thousands of those who can feel intimidated by the mere size of the clubs, or perhaps clueless about how to play online.
This guide is for everyone, whether you’ve played bingo before or not.
You’ll discover all the ins and outs about playing bingo in your local club, registering for free bingo online, claiming sign up bonuses and understanding the terms attached to the bonus funds, as well as all the mini games that can cost you a fortune, if you aren’t careful with your wallet/purse.
The two main bingo clubs are Mecca and Gala, with both being well equipped to cater to a fun afternoon or evening out. Bars and restaurants are standard in all clubs and the quality and prices are reasonable too.
Cheap food and prizes too.
To use the clubs, you need to register your details with them in order to play. Registration is quick and painless, and only involves the same details you would provide if you were joining any club. Your name, date of birth, home address and a contact telephone number.
If you’re lucky enough to look younger than 18 or taking someone with you who looks younger, ID may be required. You must be 18 years old because bingo is gambling.
The telephone number you provide is preferred to be a mobile as both clubs have text options to keep you updated on special events the club has going on. Special offers will be sent by text or if you prefer, you can opt to be updated by email.
It’s important to note that if you register your details with either club for playing online bingo, then you will become a registered member.
Both clubs often provide welcome packages in order to attract more people through the doors. Those can include a free meal voucher, free main event tickets, or perhaps discounts on electronic boards.
If you register your details online, just as many bingo companies, if not all online bingo sites have sign up bonuses, but you might find that by registering online first with either Gala or Mecca, before you sign up in the club, you could miss out on the welcome offer, as you won’t be a new member to the club.
If you plan to play in bingo clubs, it is worth inquiring with them about welcome packages prior to signing up online. By registering with the club first, and then signing up online, you may be able to get both in club welcome bonuses, and extra welcome bonuses when you sign up to play bingo online.
It is possible for your details to be recognised when you attempt to register online, in which case, you may well find the welcome bonus isn’t included, due to you already being a registered member.
It’s worth inquiring with customer services in your local club to find out what (if any) new member packages they have, and whether it affects your online registration if you plan on using both.
Once registered, you will be given your membership card. You need to keep that, as you will need it each time you visit the club.
When you go into the bingo hall, you need to swipe your card at the reception. From there, you proceed to the ticket sales desk. They will be easy to find as they are situated before you can enter the main bingo hall.
Watch this short video that explains how to play bingo
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TICKETS AND ELECTRONICS
Electronic boards are also known as touchpads
Tickets are sold in books, consisting of six tickets per book. In each club, there’s usually an early session, main event, and a late session.
Most people will at least buy the main event, and that’s usually for 11 games. 6 played in the first half, then an interval, returning for the second half and playing the final 5 games, although some clubs will differ with interval times and the amount of games played in the first and second sessions.
The tickets are sold in strips of six, as that allows every number from 1 to 90 to be on your tickets, so you can be certain that each number called, you will have it somewhere.
For ease of finding the numbers, they are arranged in columns, with the first column having the numbers 1 to 9, the 2nd column having numbers from 10 to 19 and so on up the final column having the numbers from 81 to 90.
Each line has five numbers, and each ticket has three lines.
You can either use your own pen to mark the numbers off, or you can use a bingo dabber, which will be available in the club, but you will find they are more expensive than purchasing in the highstreet. The majority of pound stores stock bingo dabbers. Some in packs of three.
If you’re in early, there will be early session tickets available. The amount of games played can differ from club to club, but you’ll generally find it’s three tickets.
There’s also the option of purchasing additional tickets for a link or national game, depending on the club you play in. These games are not always played the same as the in club games with one line wins, two line wins, and a full house (when you mark all the numbers off) as there are sometimes games that are a straight full house only.
Before any game begins, the bingo caller will announce what you need to win. A one line, two line, or full house. If you don’t hear the caller, there will be large screens around the bingo hall displaying both the numbers that are being called as they are, and also what you are playing for. (1 line, 2 lines, or full house).
Both the Gala bingo and Mecca bingo clubs have the option to play bingo electronically. They are more expensive to play, but you do get better value for money.
If you choose to play tickets, it could cost £12 for the main session, which would work out at £2 per ticket. Playing electronically, you could buy a bundle of 33 tickets for £20, working out to roughly 60p per ticket. There is more value in the electronic packages and given you can play a lot more tickets, you have a higher chance of winning.
Depending on the club, you may find that the board has an auto dab function, for which you don’t need to press anything during gameplay, and just keep an eye on the numbers to see what ones you’re waiting for to win the game.
When auto dab isn’t available on the touchpad, the only thing you have to do is tap the screen. If you miss any numbers, the board will catch up automatically the next time you tap the screen. The only area on the screen not to press is the claim button, unless you have won. In which case, shout house, line, right, or whatever to stop the game and claim your prize.
On the electronic in both clubs, they will display the amount of numbers you are waiting for, and when you get down to waiting for one number to win, it will highlight it.
There are claim buttons to press, but you must still shout when you win, or your claim will not be valid. It will be called as a false claim. The claim button is mainly for games played on the mini games, and for staff to verify your ticket is a winning one.
Never forget to shout bingo, house, right, or whatever you want to stop the game and claim your prize. And always be sure it’s on the number you win on, because if you let the caller get to the next number, you’re claim will be invalid. You must shout on the winning number before the next number is called, so when you’re waiting for one, keep your eyes peeled on the screen and your ears listening for that one number, then give a loud shout to claim your prize.
SPECIALS AT BOOK SALES DESK
Depending on the club you play at, there may be a special ticket, which is exclusively for the club and not linked up. These are not always the same as your usual bingo tickets, but instead will contain only 16 numbers, with coloured squares of red, blue, yellow, and white.
The tickets resemble the bingo boards that will be at your table, used for mini-bingo games during the interval. For specials, since they are 4 x 4 squares, you will only be playing for a full house on those. It’s up to yourself if you want to add any specials, early sessions, national/link tickets, or any optional extras. You can play only the main session if you want.
At the sales desk, there is usually a sign telling you the prize money for each game. You might find that it’s £10 per line, £20 for two lines, and £50 for a full house. That could be the prize money for the first half of the session.
The second session, the prizes are sometimes more, but it may be on the full house prize only, which can double to £100 and then £500 in the final game.
The prize money is usually advertised at the sales desk.
There may be optional extras, where you can pay extra for lucky stars or other symbols depending on the club. If you call house on the lucky star/symbol, you would win whatever the jackpot prize is for the lucky number. Those can be upwards of £1000.
There will be other times when the club you’re playing at has other larger prizes available, such as if you call on 45 numbers or less, there could be another jackpot prize.
In smaller clubs with not so many players, the club won’t have as much book sales to guarantee £100 prizes or the likes. When the book sales are not sufficient to afford paying the higher prizes, they don’t always drop the prize money to £20 per house as an example, basing their prize money on the book sales.
Instead, they will link up a number of smaller clubs so that the prize money can be increased. So if there’s five clubs with only 20 people in each, the clubs can link together to pool the money from 100 book sales, which essentially means there would be 100 people playing and not the 20 in the hall.
It doesn’t matter which club you play in or when, there are always rules and you need to respect them. The main one being that when bingo is in play, there is no noise. The bingo hall falls silent, and any discussions you’re having with your friends, you must keep the noise to a minimum.
Fail to keep quiet and the regulars will soon give you an ear bashing.
During intervals, there usually aren’t any problems with noise; however, there may be linked games, when big money is in play. Some jackpot prizes can be as high £20’000 and upwards.
When silence is required, the bingo caller will announce the game that is about to be played and let everyone know that house rules are in effect.
When you hear an announcement that house rules apply, it just means to keep the discussions low, as others in the hall will be concentrating on the game.
For other mini games with smaller prizes, there isn’t a problem with noise levels. There are screens on each table that will display the numbers that are called, and beside those, there is the claim button for when you win, if you are playing the game anyway.
MANAGING YOUR BUDGET
In each bingo session, there are always intervals. During the intervals, bingo is still being played. In addition to the bingo, there’s also an arcade area with slot machines available. If you stay in the hall to play the interval bingo, the cost is usually either £1 per game, per board, or 50p per game per board.
These games take place every 5 minutes.
If you’re playing with tickets, to play the mini bingo, there will be a plastic bingo board at your table and a coin slot for you to play it.
Each board has two for you to play. An A card and a B card. If it’s £1 to play, the £1 will only activate your A card. To activate the B card, you’ll need to add another pound. Costing £2 per game if you were to play both cards can soon rack up the amount you spend, so be sure you set yourself a limit or you could spend more than you intended.
If you choose to play the electronic boards, you can play the mini games on the board itself. The coin slot can still be used to top up your account. There will be instructions on the board help menu that will walk you through linking your board up to the coin slot at your table, but if you have any problems, just ask the staff to link it up for you.
With the electronic boards, there are 4 cards you can play on the mini games, so if you thought £2 per play with games every five minutes, you can double that if you were to play the four cards.
You can select just to play the one card on each game. If you’re worried you’ll spend more than you want to, you can manage your spending limits on the electronic boards.
On each table in the bingo halls, there are boards with red, blue, yellow and white squares, with 16 numbers on each. The Mecca clubs have these built into their tables, and the Gala have plastic boards. They both work the same way.
You activate the boards using the coin slots to bring them into play. Coin slots are located at all tables.
The numbers will be called by colour first, followed by the number. Red 16, Yellow 27, White 65, Blue 40 and so on.
You will have to listen to the announcer at the start of the game, because there are some games that have red squares free, top right corner free etc. Whatever is called, mark them off on your board by sliding the plastic window over the numbers.
Most games will be straight through for a house, but there are some that may be four corners and other variations. The bingo caller will announce what the game requirements are to win before the game starts.
If you’re playing the electronic boards, these will mark them off as you tap the screen and let you know the amount of numbers you’re waiting to win, and when you get to one, it will highlight it for you.
Both in-house games, and linked/national games, you will need to shout and press the claim button either on your electronic board, or press the claim button at your table.
For electronic boards, there are also mini games you can play just like slot machines. Some are 10p per play, with others costing £1 per play. It’s similar to the slots in each club, only you can play them without leaving your table through your touchpad.
Also note that any winnings you get are added to your account and you can spend that on the games, so if you want to remove the temptation of spending your winnings, you can cash it out at any time.
PLAYING BINGO ONLINE
Whether you’re a regular at your local bingo hall, or you’re completely new to the game, there may come a point when you find yourself bored, feeling a bit lucky and fancy dipping into online bingo.
It can feel that in every ad break on television there’s a new bingo site being advertised with all sorts of bonuses on offer. It’s very rare you’ll find a bingo website that does not offer bonuses when new members register.
The offers will differ with every bingo site online, but they will all have terms and conditions attached to them.
Research for the best deals
To get the best deals, you do have to do your research, and with each offer you find, you will need to read the terms and conditions attached to the bonus offer.
You will often find that you can get bonus funds after your first deposit. Some sites you really need to be wary of though as it may not be worthwhile accepting the sign up bonus due to the terms attached to them. They leave you little chance of winning your money back.
When you see the welcome bonus offer on the website, there will usually be an asterix * marked, indicating that terms and conditions apply. The small print stuff.
With some bingo sites, the bonus offer could be £40 free play after you deposit £10. However, when you read the terms and conditions, you can find that they have a wager requirement of 4x the bonus funds.
What this means is that if you receive £40 in bonus funds, you would have to wager 4 times that amount before you can withdraw your winnings. That would mean you would have to win £160 and buy tickets with those winnings before you’re eligible to withdraw.
With those types of wagering requirements, you’re probably best not to accept the welcome bonus. There will be an option when you deposit, or first register to accept or decline the offer.
Not all bingo sites have these terms, but what you will find is that any bonus money will be added to a different balance. When you are logged into your account, you will see two balances. A cash balance and a bonus balance. You can only use the bonus funds to buy bingo tickets on the site, but you cannot withdraw those funds.
Depending on the sites terms, you might find that your bonus funds can only be used when your cash balance is empty.
Any winnings from the tickets you buy using bonus funds go into your cash balance. Some bingo sites stipulate your cash balance is used to purchase tickets first, and bonus funds are only used when you have no money in your cash balance.
For that reason, if you do win with your bonus funds, it’s worth trying to withdraw your winnings right away, so you can go back to playing with your bonus funds.
In nearly every online bingo website, there are two parts to them. The main part is the bingo sections, but they also have slot games, and casino games such as poker and blackjack.
For the sites that don’t have a wagering requirement on the bingo bonus, you will often find that they do have the wagering requirement if you spend your bonus funds in the casino games.
Always use your bingo bonus funds to purchase bingo tickets, and not for playing casino games. It could only take you to do a 10p spin on a slot machine and next thing you know, you cannot withdraw your winnings until you have played over £100.
This is why it’s crucial that you read and understand the terms and conditions of any offer before you accept it.
BINGO CHAT ROOMS
When you play online bingo, there are chat rooms. They appear either to the left or the right of the bingo tickets you have in play, depending on the site you’re using.
The chat rooms add a community element to the game, just as you have in the bingo halls. Other players use the chat box to type messages to other players. The more you frequent the rooms, the more chat names you’ll begin to recognize. Just as bingo halls have regulars, there are online regular bingo players too. And there’s also chat room hosts there to chat with, and they will do chat games too.
When you register for online bingo, you will be asked to register a chat name. The name you register will be the one that is displayed on the chat room. Although there are some sites which ask you to create a username and a chat name. If the site you’re using allows it, it will ask you to select a chat name when you go to play bingo for the first time.
Sometimes the only people available to chat to are other players, but other times there may be a chat host.
Universal Rules for Bingo Chat Rooms
Whether the room you’re playing in has a chat host or not, there are rules universal to all bingo chat rooms that you need to adhere to.
When using the chat feature, you cannot type in CAPITAL LETTERS. Those are only allowed to be used by the Chat Moderators (CM) who are members of staff. It’s how all the players (called roomies in the chat room) differentiate players from staff.
Chat hosts are not always available, but when you log into play bingo, you are first taken to a lobby.
In the lobby is where you’ll find a selection of bingo rooms and all the information you need to help you decide which room you want to play in.
The columns in the lobby will tell you…a) The price of tickets
b) The number of players in the room
c) The time remaining before the next begins
d) The name of the chat moderator (host)
For rooms that do not have anyone hosting the chat room, or moderating, it will show as No CM. If there is someone there, it will display CM_PERSONS NAME. CM Stands for Chat Moderator.
If there is a Chat Moderator in the room, there are usually separate games taking place known as Chat Games. Obviously, if there’s no chat host in the room, there are no chat games available.
Chat hosts are employed by bingo firms to keep their players entertained during the game.
It could be that the first double number that is shouted, you type in something to the chat room, such as “double trouble”, and the first person to type that into the chat box receives a prize. Usually in the form of bonus funds that you can use to purchase more bingo tickets.
The only other thing to remember in chat rooms is not to mention any other bingo name, other than the site you’re on.
If you play bingo online with Gala, you are not allowed to mention Mecca, Foxy Bingo, Sun Bingo, Mirror Bingo, or any other bingo club name whether they operate online or offline.
It’s strictly against the chat rooms of all bingo websites to be seen as promoting another company. Even if you are only mentioning that you went to the club. That mention is viewed as raising awareness of a competitor, which can be construed as promotional. Chat Hosts are quick to politely point out that you cannot mention another bingo company name in chat.
90 BALL AND 75 BALL (ONLINE BINGO ONLY)
Bingo isn’t unique to the UK. Just the 90-ball version of the game. In the US and in Canada, it’s the 75-ball bingo that’s played and that is much different than the 90 ball bingo.
The overseas version is not played in bingo halls, but you will be exposed to it when you play online, as there are separate rooms, and you have the option to play both. Not at the same time though.
In 90-ball bingo, you have three chances to win with each game.
1. 1 line
2. 2 lines
3. Full house
In 75-ball bingo (only available online) you have five chances to win but more numbers to mark.
Playing 75-ball bingo, you can buy either one ticket, or a strip of tickets consisting of three.
Unlike the 90-ball game, where one ticket has five numbers per line, across three lines, 75-ball bingo tickets have five rows across, and five rows down, with the middle square being a star.
Instead of having 15 numbers per ticket, you will have 24 numbers per ticket to mark off for a five-line win.
In 75-ball bingo, you are playing for a line in each game you play.
1. 1 line
2. 2 lines
3. 3 lines
4. 4 lines
5. 5 lines
You have more chances to win per ticket, but you have more numbers to mark off.
Across the top of the tickets, are the letters B.I.N.G.O and those letters represent the columns. When the numbers are called, they are called as B11, N48, O74, always using the letter first, followed by the number.
Fortunately, you don’t have to concentrate on where your numbers are, or what you’re waiting for as the game auto plays, marking off your numbers just as it does in your 90-ball tickets online, and all other bingo games.
Another difference is how you win the lines, as you can win with a line horizontally or diagonally in the first line. From the second line onwards, all line wins are horizontal. The game play continues until all five lines have been won.
DEPOSITING AND WITHDRAWING FUNDS FROM YOUR ONLINE BINGO ACCOUNT
When you register with an online bingo site, you need a way to deposit funds to your account. That requires either your bank details, or you can pay by Paypal on most sites.
Whichever way you choose to deposit, will be the only way you can withdraw. If you pay with Paypal, you can only withdraw to Paypal. If you by debit card, you only withdraw to the bank account you registered.
Likewise, if you register a credit card, withdrawals can only go to your credit card account. This is the same with any site with the ability to deposit and withdraw funds, as it prevents the sites being used for money laundering.
Whenever you’re paying anything online, you should always check your browser to make sure it is an https connection. That shows in the top left of your browser address bar and that needs to be green for it to be secure. A red cross through the HTTPS, means the connection is not as secure as it should be.
If that happens, use the contact details, or live help to speak to a member of staff. If you cannot get a secure connection for whatever reason, you’re best just not to deposit at all.
SETTING YOUR LIMITS AND PLAYING RESPONSIBLY
Whether you play online or in a club, you must play responsibly. The minute you don’t, bingo loses its entertainment factor. It is a game to be enjoyed. Not stressing you out trying to win back any money you lost.
Before you begin playing, set your limits. As previously mentioned, there are other games in both bingo clubs and online bingo that you can play, as well as mini games during the interval.
Knowing that prepares you for what to expect when you go into a club, or start playing online. There will be fruit machines, slot machines, mini games, and plenty of ways for you to spend your money. Always set your limits before you play. If you know you’re going to try the mini games, or chance your luck on the slots, set yourself a limit on how much you are prepared to spend, and not just spend, but can afford to lose.
Make sure you know what your limits are
The bingo halls are great for an afternoon or an evening out, but if you don’t set your limits, you can quickly find it expensive.
When you play bingo online, some sites will display a timer. It can be easy to get caught up in a conversation in a chat room, spending hours playing penny bingo, the account dries up, you throw another fiver into your account, and you’re on there for another couple of hours.
If playing interferes with your daily life in anyway, it’s time to step away.
All reputable gambling companies take their responsibilities seriously. They want their customers to enjoy the game, and not destroy themselves chasing losses, losing money hand over fist.
If you find yourself in a situation when it feels like the game is dominating your life, there are usually tools you can use to help you manage your gameplay.
For problems arising from playing bingo in a local club, you will find leaflets are available with information for gambling responsibly, with help lines you can call, websites you can visit and advice on how to control your game play.
If you experience problems with online bingo, look for a link that says “responsible gambling” and that will take you to a help page, giving you advice on how to get back into control and manage your budget.
It’s not always the money that’s the problem with gambling. It can be time, as the sites are open 24/7. It’s not unusual for problem gamblers to sit up all night, sleeping all day, because they feel they have a better chance of winning when there’s less players online.
That’s definitely a sign of problem gambling as it is interfering with your daily life at that point.
To control that, some sites have session limits you can set, so you can only play for perhaps 3 hours in any 24-hour period, or set it to a weekly time limit, or a monthly restriction.
When those session limits are applied, it won’t matter whether you log in from a mobile, laptop, PC, or from a library. The session limit is applied to your account and it will lock you out when the time is up.
If you find yourself spending more than you can afford, or even just want to be certain you don’t go out on a whim and an extra £10 that you cannot comfortably afford, you can set deposit limits.
These can be applied for a daily limit, weekly limit, or if you’re on a salary, you might want to set a monthly limit.
Whenever that limit is reached, you will not be able to deposit. Ethical bingo sites take this issue very seriously, so you will not be able to set a limit, get caught up in the moment and decide to raise your limit so you can continue playing.
Most have a minimum 24-wait time before the limit change will be applied to your account. This gives you time to step away from the game and think about whether you should be raising your limit, or if you are better to leave it as is.
That is unless you are lowering your deposit limit, in which case, the lower restriction will be applied instantly.
Need a break completely?
Request a cooling off period. No matter which online bingo site you play with, they are obliged to provide a cooling off period. To put this in place, you need to contact customer support. You do not have to give them any information about problems or explain yourself. Just ask for a cooling off period. Anywhere from a day to six months.
Whatever length of time you want to stay away from playing, notify customer support and they will temporarily close your account, until the cooling off period expires. During this time, you should not be receiving any promotional material to encourage you to play again.
The option to self-exclude yourself from playing
You can do this at any time should you experience problems. The default period for most sites is one year, during which time you will not be able to access your account, nor receive any marketing material promoting gambling.
It is usually a formal process where you request a self-exclusion form to be sent to you. Fill that out, and return it to the mailing address provided and your account will be closed for one year.
Unlike a cooling off period though, where the account reactivates automatically when the cooling off period expires; self-exclusions on accounts do not. After a year, you would have to contact the company to reactivate your account.
ENJOY YOUR BINGO!
Play responsibly and you’ll enjoy the game as much as everyone else is, whether that’s online, or in your local club.
Technology may have changed the way the game is played, but it’s not took the roots away from the game.
Bingo halls and even playing online bingo are both social hubs. In the clubs, you can meet up with friends, meet some new friends, enjoy a meal, a cup of tea/coffee, or a glass of wine from the bar.
Playing online is just as social, because of the chat room feature and the chat hosts employed to keep you entertained and enjoying the game.