What are Online Bingo Games?
Online bingo games are, in essence, the digital simulation of the physical game of bingo. Using digital cards and usually some kind of chat room to emulate the social aspect of playing the game at a bingo hall, the idea is to recreate the excitement and fun of playing bingo from wherever you may be, on a computer, tablet or even a phone.
Bingo itself can trace its roots back to 16th century Italy and the modern game is not radically different. The game consists of a caller who randomly selects numbers from a pool of either 75, 80 or 90 depending on the game, while players all have a card with a selection of the same range of numbers printed on it. As a number is called, the player strikes off those that appear on their card, and the game is won by the first player to complete a horizontal line of eliminated numbers or strike off all the numbers on their card, depending on the game type being played.
The electronic representation of this in online bingo gives you a random card, and the system randomly draws the numbers for the players. To mark off numbers on the card players simply click on them. For what is in essence a social activity, it has translated remarkably well to the online environment.
What types of online bingo game are there?
There are many variations on bingo, both in how many balls are played and what the requirements for winning are. The main two types are 90 ball Bingo (played in Europe, South America and Australasia) and 75 ball Bingo which is popular across North America. We will first look at these, then move on to the various types of game played with each.
90 Ball bingo
90 ball Bingo is the UK version of the game that has found widespread popularity across the world. As the name suggests, it uses 90 numbered balls and the players use bingo cards marked out in a grid of 9x3 boxes with nine columns and three horizontal rows. Each horizontal row contains 5 numbers so each card contains a total of 15 numbers.
The first column contains numbers in the 1-9 range, the second 20-29 and so on to the last of the nine columns which contains the final 80-90 ranged numbers. To complete a single line, the player must mark off all five numbers in that line with all 15 being required for a full house.
90 Ball games generally follow a pattern of prize winning: one line, then 2 line, then full house. This means the first to a complete horizontal line wins the initial prize. Then the game resumes and the first to complete two horizontal lines wins a prize. Finally the game restarts for a full house meaning the first player to mark off all their numbers wins the final prize. How the prizes are split is dependent on where you are playing but it should be made obvious beforehand.
75 Ball bingo
This is the version of bingo played and loved right across the U.S. As the name suggests, it uses a total of 75 individually numbered balls and is played on cards that have a 5x5 grid.
The center number on the grid is always designated a "Free" number and thus the cards contain a total of 24 numbers. The top of the card us usually headed by the word "BINGO" with each letter arranged to be sitting above a number column. The 1st column, the "B" one, contains numbers in the range of 1-15 and this goes up across the board to the final "O" column containing the 61-75 range numbers. In 75 ball bingo, because the grid is square, a winning line can be horizontal, vertical or even diagonal across the card.
This type of bingo often has winning requirements that differ from the basic line or full house styles and sometimes include patterns (all corners, a letter ‘T’ and so on). 75 ball bingo is also played as a variation called speed bingo. The only difference here is that the numbers are called as fast as possible with the challenge being simply to keep up. In this variation of the game, full house is referred to as coverall or blackout but the object is the same – to mark off all the numbers on the card.
80 Ball Bingo
This is a relatively new iteration of Bingo and seeks to combine the larger number variation of 90 ball bingo with the card style of 75 ball and its multiple line combinations. The result is a game played with 80 balls using bingo cards arranged in a 4x4 grid for a total of 16 numbers per card. As with 75 ball bingo, winning lines can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal, however in this style of game there is no "free" number in the center to help.
The numbers are organized in both ranges similar to the others with 1-20 in the first column through to 61 to 80 in the last. They are also color coded although the colors themselves vary depending on what company is running the game. As with 75 ball bingo, games here can use pattern matching to win as well as lines and the full house style games. 80 Ball bingo is quite significant as it is mostly an online phenomenon – the first instance of online bingo leading the game in the real world – and its popularity can perhaps be explained by the fact that it caters to people familiar with both styles of popular play: 90 and 75 ball bingo.
Single line bingo
This is the basic game of bingo played in all of the formats. Whether it is 75, 80 or 90 ball bingo, the most common game is the line. The object here is simply to be the first mark off a complete line of numbers on your card. For 75 and 80 ball, which both have square cards, this can be in any direction, horizontal, vertical or diagonal. However, for 90 ball bingo – which has a rectangular card based on a 9X3 grid – the line must be horizontal. This means you have to mark off five cards in a line for 75 and 90 ball and 4 for 80 ball bingo. Traditionally, the first player to mark off a line announces this by shouting "Bingo" though in the online environment this has been superseded by the electronic announcements.
Full house bingo
Full House is the name given in 90 ball bingo to a game in which the winning scenario is to mark off every number on the player's card. The same game is played in both 80 and 75 ball bingo, where it may be called Blackout or Coverall. The premise of the game, to mark off every number, remains the same here. Particularly in 90 ball, but sometimes also in the other two formats, the full house game may follow on from a line game as the large prize in a session on the same cards. This adds value to the card as you get more than one chance to win with each card a player purchases.
In 90 ball bingo, winners have traditionally announced the fact by shouting "House", although in the US "Bingo" has remained the winning call whatever style game being played. In the online environment, there is no real equivalent.
Online Bingo Games Variations
In addition to these main games, there are many variations played online to keep the players engaged. These can vary from simply changing the winning stipulations, such as changing the line to a pattern such as the letter "T" or "L", or all corners. Other variations include adding challenges for players such as speed bingo – also known as quickie bingo – where the numbers are called as fast as possible and players are challenged to keep up. Some options completely rework the game. One of these currently gaining popularity in online bingo gaming is the mini bingo game.
Mini Bingo uses just 30 balls and player cards are arranged in a 3x3 matrix for a total of 9 numbers. The result of this is a game that can be completed very quickly with each round only lasting a few minutes. This makes it very suited to the "slip in and out" style of online play.
Most online bingo games also include bonuses along the way with things like Lucky Ball, where a number is designated as the lucky ball before play. Anyone who wins using that ball as the final one has their prize doubled. These kinds of additions are designed to keep players interested and playing.
Free Online Bingo Games
Free bingo is what it says: bingo that costs nothing to play. A lot of free bingo games give prizes for winning and rely on advertising to fund themselves. While they are fine for a bit of fun, the advertisements can become annoying after a while. Though many of the very first online bingo games were of the free variety, they are much less common today. A tactic often used by bingo companies is to require signing up for an account to play the free games. They then try to push you towards the paid games over time.
Money Bingo is paying to play. Many may wonder why, if free games exist, anyone would want to pay. The money flow however goes two ways. You can also win money with these games with the result that bingo games become more exciting when there's something tangible to play for.
Although in many places, notably the UK, Bingo is not classed as gambling, it is worth remembering the dangers of gambling addiction when starting to play online bingo. Always be responsible with the amounts of money you use. Bingo games use very low stakes, as little as 3c per card, so this is easy to manage.
Online Bingo Bonuses
Companies are constantly offering sign up bonuses to encourage you to play their games. With many of these, they'll match your deposit, or even add to your deposit by several hundred percent. However, it's important here to check the terms and conditions of offers. They come with restrictions that may make them seem not so great after all.
Restrictions vary, but most of them require that you play games with entry values that are multiples of the bonus amount before you are allowed to make a withdrawal. For example, some bingo sites make you spend 200% of your bonus on games before you can withdraw. Others insist that the bonus amount is never withdrawn at all. Bingo bonuses are nice but remember to treat them as just that – a bonus.
Choosing an Online Bingo Game to play
Choosing an online bingo game is quite a personal process. You'll often find that personal choice over something as simple as color schemes can affect your opinion of a site. Draw up a list of ones you like the look of from your internet searches and reviews and once you have a list you can start selecting the best candidates.
From your list, start by looking at the joining offers. Which ones offer the best deal for your level of deposit? Decide your deposit amount in advance and tailor your choices accordingly. Do not make the mistake of finding a great offer and upping your deposit in order to get it. The bonuses on offer are never worth the risk.
The next piece of the puzzle is looking at the payment and withdrawal methods. If there is one that has an easier method of withdrawal for your preferred payment method, then that should be top of the list. The easier it is to get your money in and out the better.
Now take a closer look at the games themselves. You may be set on a certain type of bingo game but having a wide choice helps stop things becoming stale. A bit of variety is always good!
You'll soon be able to narrow your list of potential sites down to just one or two.
How to Play an online Bingo Game
Bingo is a simple game really, a game of elimination you will find very easy to play. Online games usually appears in the form of a pop-up window (you will get warnings about any pop up blockers when you join the site) with a number cards on it for you to play. Next to this in most cases will be a chat interface allowing you to communicate with other players and the staff.
In Bingo, each card contains random numbers and the computer calls out numbers at random from a pool of "balls". How many depends on the flavor of Bingo you are playing. When numbers on your cards are called, you simply click them to cross them out.
You carry on until someone gets the winning requirements. This varies from game to game but is usually either the first person to complete a line or first to mark off all of their numbers on a single card. It is very straightforward but very engaging and that simplicity is at the heart of bingo's ongoing popularity both on and offline.
Offers for Different Online Bingo Games