Bingo is a numbers game that has been around for centuries, slowly evolving into its present form. Originating in Italy in the 1500s, bingo is very popular worldwide - not just in casinos and on cruises, but at churches and other religious institutions as a way to raise funds. Arguably one of the most familiar forms of gambling, the game of bingo may need little explanation - you play it virtually the same way whether you're at a second-grade birthday party or in an Indian-reservation casino.
At most casinos and bingo halls, bingo involves a few constant components and a familiar cast of characters.
Bingo Worker bees.
At any bingo session, you're likely to find two key characters who facilitate the games. The caller announces the letter-number combinations that come up. The floor persons, or checkers (their number depends on the size of the crowd), check when someone declares a bingo that the caller has indeed called all the winning numbers.
In the past, casinos used a large, metal cage or big, plastic blower that housed bingo's 75 small plastic balls, each with a unique letter-number combination. The blower "whooshed" the balls around, and the caller chose them randomly one by one. The caller announced the letter-number combination. The result was also immediately posted on a large flash board.
However, that system is becoming antiquated, and most modern casinos use computers to generate the random bingo numbers and automatic card scanners to validate winners.
As the caller announces the letter-number combos, you mark them on one or more bingo cards (which are often laid out on sheets rather than on individual cards). These cards spell out B-I-N-G-O across the top of five columns, and under each letter are five numbers, giving a selection of 24 out of 75 possible numbers. One free space is in the middle of the card.
Bingo cards don't randomly distribute the 75 numbers used in bingo but spread them out evenly over the five letters, as follows:
- B column: 1 to 15
- I column: 16 to 30
- N column: 31 to 45 (the center spot is always free)
- G column: 46 to 60
- O column: 61 to 75
If the cards are individual (rather than printed en masse on sheets), two types of bingo cards are available when you play:
- Flimsies: Paper throwaways.
- Shutter cards: Plastic permanent cards. Their name comes from the fact that these cards have little window shutters that you use to cover a called number and that you can reset for the next game.
When using the paper cards, you mark them with a special ink bottle or pen, known in bingo lingo as a dauber. If you instead use sheets (rather than individual cards), then punch-out options and markers aren't used. Sheets typically come with either 3, 6, 9, or 12 games preprinted on them.
Playing B-l-N-G-O down the line.
You typically play bingo in a session consisting of several games. One great feature of bingo is that every game has a winner! An individual game may only last ten minutes or so, but the entire bingo session typically lasts a few hours. The following steps show how you play bingo:
- Before the start of a bingo session, purchase bingo cards, usually sold in packets of three to six cards, or sheets (which have a fixed number printed on them).
The purchase of your bingo cards is your admission charge to the session. In many bingo casinos and halls, you must buy a minimum number of cards. You can't bring in your own bingo cards or unused cards from another session.
- The bingo game starts when the caller yells "Eyes down".
- The balls start popping, and the caller begins selecting and announcing the letter-number combinations.
- With each call, you check your cards to see whether you have the called letter-number combination and, if so, you mark it on your card or do the punch-out on the sheets.
The object of the game is to cover a specified pattern on a card before any other player. The most familiar pattern is the line, with five numbers in a row, running in one of the following directions:
- When you find you have a winning pattern, you shout "Bingo!" to alert the caller to stop the play. Typically, most wins occur within 12 to 14 calls.
- A checker rushes to your side and reads off the letter-number combos in your winning pattern to verify that you're a winner.
If another player calls bingo at the same time, you both win, and you split the prize money.
To stop the game, you must loudly call out "Bingo" as soon as your last number comes up. If you don't attract the attention of the checker and the play continues with the next ball called, your bingo won't be honored. For example, if the caller announces I-19 and then B-12, I-19 is no longer a winning number! The I-19 is a sleeper and isn't a valid bingo. So be extra alert if you're playing multiple cards - or limit yourself to one card until you pick up some speed. After the game is over, a new game begins with everyone keeping their same cards or sheets, but starting over (a clean slate).
Where to play.
Here is the list of some online casinos where you can play Bingo:
|Online casino||Software||Currencies||No Download||Languages||Notes|
||888||Euro, GBP, USD||Yes|
||Microgaming||CAD, Euro, GBP, USD||Yes|
||Party Gaming||Euro, GBP, US||Yes|
||Playtech||CAD, Euro, GBP, USD||Yes|