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Bingo in the UK has been a popular game for many generations. Many of you reading this will remember holidays at the seaside and playing bingo at the arcades, winning those kitsch glass fish and soft toys. And I’m sure that some of you will have an older member of the family that regularly visits the local bingo hall. Social and working men’s clubs have rung with the cries of ‘eyes down for a full house’ for many years.
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The Basic Principles of Playing Bingo Online or in a Hall it’s the same.
The basic game of UK bingo is played using a card divided into 27 squares, 9 columns and 3 rows. 5 numbers and four blank spaces are arranged in each row. The columns containing up to 3 numbers are set out as follows:
- 1st numbers from 1-10
- 2nd numbers from 10-20
- 3rd 20-30 and so it goes up to the 9th with numbers from 81-90
‘The caller’ is responsible for calling out the numbers drawn and checking winning tickets. The numbers are selected from either a bag of 90 counters manually, or balls from a mechanical draw machine (modern electronic random number generators are now used in large venues, as well as online.)
The game starts with the caller announcing the prize, and the winning combination needed for that time around. The combinations are:
- Four corners – the far right and far left numbers on the top and bottom lines.
- Line – all five numbers on one line.
- Two lines – all 10 numbers on two lines.
- Full House – all 15 numbers.
The caller then calls out each number as it is drawn, players check their cards and mark the number if they have it. Once all numbers needed for that winning combination have been marked, the player shouts to draw the attention of the caller to stop the game. The card is then checked and a winner is declared or the game resumes if a mistake is found. The last number called must be part of the winning combination or the win can be invalidated. A large proportion of online sites have an auto marking system so this is not so much of a problem now.
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Bingo has developed an interesting patois over the years, with callers drawing out the game by developing and using nicknames for the numbers drawn. Known as ‘bingo lingo’ this slang has even entered modern language and is recognized by many, with ‘two little ducks’ (22), ‘the key to the door’ (21) and ‘legs eleven’ as examples. With the widespread use of random number generators in bingo halls today the practice is dying out, kept alive in smaller venues and holiday camps.
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Getting Started in the World of Online Bingo
Online Bingo Registration is Quick and Easy
Once you’ve decided which site you want to join you will need to register. Registering is very simple and usually only takes a minute or two. Due to the gaming laws of this country, for a lot of sites you must be a resident of the UK to play. You will be asked to create a username and password unique to you. There will be security questions that you set the answers to, which can be used for verification purposes in the future. Making a deposit into your newly created account is just as simple. Use a credit or debit card, or you can even use PayPal on some sites, and you are ready to go. Most have a minimum deposit of £10 but there are some as low as £5.
A Wide Range of Online Bingo Sites – Some Good, Some Bad
All of the well-known sites are extremely secure and trustworthy and have sophisticated security software in place to safeguard their clients. The online bingo market is worth millions in the UK, companies involved want the whole experience to be fun and worry free. There are over 500 online bingo sites, but not all are reputable. Watch out for sites with similar sounding names to the most well-known brands. They may be spelt slightly different quite often only one letter will be changed. They will more than likely be a scam site. A reputable, honest provider will want to create an individual image and reputation, not feed off somebody else’s. If the site you visit doesn’t have a polished feel to it, don’t use it. All of the best and most established companies spend thousands of pounds on their online presence, a poorly maintained or badly presented site is likely to be dodgy. Even if it wasn’t crooked it would not deliver a pleasant playing experience, so why take the chance. There are so many great sites to play bingo there really is no reason to give your money to those who are sub-standard in any way.
How Legislation Has Changed Bingo Sites Forever
Gaming laws in the UK had always prohibited commercial gaming stating that games could be played for small stakes as long as there was no individual gain from it. So cash prizes in bingo had always been illegal and games for prizes usually pure entertainment or for charitable means. Holiday camps such as Butlins had been putting on bingo games since they opened and had made a lot of money for charity.
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Bingo in the 1950’s
The start of the 1950’s saw a Royal Commission into the practices of gambling within British society. Gambling had long been viewed by the masses as a social activity rather than a problem, and with this in mind the Commission recommended changes to the Gaming Act to allow taxation and regulation.
Bingo in the 60’s
In 1961 changes to the law were finally brought in. In principle the government simply wanted to legitimize what they considered to be a small existing gambling culture, not create an industry. What they failed to grasp, and they were warned, was that there was a gaping loophole within the Act. It stated that all stakes had to be returned to the players. Effectively meaning no money could be made from the prize pool, but it allowed players to be charged for the privilege of playing. What this meant was quickly realized by many, allowing commercial development of the game, and so the bingo boom started in earnest. The first commercial club opened on the 3rd of January 1961 just two days after the new Act became law. Within two years of the change in the law over 14 000 000 members were registered with bingo clubs. What became known as the Golden Years of Bingo was just starting.
Mecca and the Rank organization got in at the get go, realizing that their ballrooms, mostly empty during the day, would make good bingo sites. Within months the average attendance at the various Mecca ballrooms was over 150 000 players per day. Very quickly these ballrooms became the top rated bingo sites, providing comfortable premises, large scale catering, and daily cash games. Right from the outset these games offered large cash prizes, as well as, holidays, fur coats, and even diamond brooches. Bingo was here to stay and has over the years generated vast sums within the leisure and gaming industry.
The Modern Bingo Revolution
The number of bingo sites in the UK grew and grew, small as well as large, until a change in legislation in 1968 changed the demographic. Designed to alter the perception of gambling from a social problem to a leisure pursuit, instead it bought about the demise of most of the small venues, consolidating the hold on the market by the big few. This change however, did not slow the growth with over 600 bingo halls around the country by 2005. However the writing was already on the wall for the next big evolution, the internet was here and here to stay. By 2006 the numbers of bingo halls around the country were in decline, people had found a new way to get there bingo fix.
Online bingo sites take off
With the advent of the internet, bingo quickly became established from the beginning, with a wealth of sites springing up in no time at all. Most of these sites were free to play and generated income from advertising. Unlike bingo halls where conversation during the game is strictly prohibited, online sites have fostered a sense of community with chat rooms available on all sites. A clever tool in customer retention, the idea off combining a social media approach with gaming has proved to be very popular. A huge number of players are online at any one moment.
2005 saw a radical shift in British law and online gambling really took off. Bingo sites in their hundreds sprang up. This impacted bingo halls in a big way with many closing in the wake of the huge upswing in online players. With so many out there to choose from how can you compare bingo sites? A fight for customers ensued. With just about every operator offering one form of incentive or another. All of the best online bingo sites offer cash games requiring a small deposit in your account to play. Most will give a percentage of your first deposit as a welcome bonus, in the form of some kind of playing credit added to your account. Some of the larger companies give up to 500%. Promotions abound with free scratch cards given on some games, loyalty points, and new ideas to retain customers come out every day. One major site gives away £50 000 on the first Friday in every month. It really does pay to look into each site because although the game may be the same, the playing incentives are very different not to mention the playing experience.
Small Stakes with Large Payouts Possible
Most games are played for small stakes but have relatively large pay outs. This can seem very strange to the newcomer and gives the impression that it may be easy to win. Online bingo sites are able to do this by what is known as a linked game. Linking the actual game with several other sites ensures enough players join the game. All promotions are individual to each site they just pool players to make up the numbers. Similar systems are used in bingo halls which allow them to generate large payouts. One of the largest was over £1 000 000 in the ‘National Game’.
Payouts have steadily risen you can now compare online bingo sites to old-school halls, they have definitely upped their game in recent years. There are thousands of pounds available to win from the top bingo sites every single day. Not only offering bingo but a verity of casino games as well, the opportunity to get rich is very real. The record payout from an online bingo site is £5.9m to a UK resident won with a 30 pence stake, a very serious amount of money!
Online Bingo Sites Are a Great Way to Make Virtual Friends
But playing online bingo is not all about the money. The social aspect of the game is very much a big part of it. Moving from land based halls you would think that the opposite was true. But as technology has evolved so has our social networking. Our friendships are no longer bound by a geographical or physical nature. We can interact with more people from more locations than ever before, pen pals have evolved, we can now chat and play together in real time. All the popular sites have an almost holiday camp entertainment feel about them. The chatrooms are buzzing with activity with moderators keeping the atmosphere going, just like a redcoat would. Side games aplenty just for fun, magazines, and regular articles have managed to create the feeling of a social gathering. For a lot of people, bingo is a lot of fun. It seems the variety of formats for the game is growing too. The original 90 ball game is as popular as ever, but the American version of 75 ball is available and proving to be just as playable. There are even 80 ball games and quick 40 or 50 ball versions as well.
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Play the Best Online Bingo Sites When Mobile
The ball just keeps rolling as mobile technology is getting better and better, so the top bingo providers are having to keep up. The best of the bunch now have sites that are not only compatible with all mobile devices, they are designed to play extremely well so wherever you are you can log in and play. Mobile playing technology has bought the game to even more people and the accessibility means that even if you only have a few spare minutes you can get in a game of bingo anywhere.
The Modern Phenomenon of Online Bingo Sites – Rooted in Social History
So where did it all start? The history of bingo is a little fuzzy, but the origins of the game seem to come from continental Europe. An Italian lottery called Il Gioco del Lotto d’Italia was played in the sixteenth century, and seems to have spread through Europe in the eighteenth century. Called Le Lotto in France it was played using ninety numbers and it closely resembled modern bingo. The game was played mainly by the aristocracy in France when it hit our shores the general population claimed it for themselves. Lotteries however, had been played in England for many years before, and were used by the Crown to generate revenue, notably by Elizabeth I to help fund her war chest.
In the years of Queen Anne’s reign, a prize of £20 000 for the state lottery was available, a vast sum of money at the time and was seen by many as a way out of poverty. The parallels with today are uncanny, lotto’s are still seen by the poorer classes as an escape route from their lives. The main state lottery was only run on a limited basis and did not cater to the public’s thirst for this popular, simple form of gambling. As a result many illegal street games were run and by the time bingo as we now play it had arrived the general public were already hooked. The best bingo sites were often found in public markets, and areas of waste ground. For over one hundred years bingo sites in the UK ran unchecked and every town had at least one regular game. Bingos popularity in the slums of London was huge, particularly with women, a trend that has not changed to this day.
For a Time the Military had the Best Bingo Sites
A very popular game within the Royal Navy and the British Army, it was actually sanctioned by the authorities and was the only game of chance allowed for cash reward. Actively encouraged during the First World War, bingo was seen as a welcome distraction to horrors of trench life. Known as Tombola in the Navy and House or Housey in the Army, the game was well established amongst all ranks and the way it is played remains virtually unchanged, from then until now.
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that games played in the military had very large numbers of players, and the cash prizes were substantial. Some of the largest unsurprisingly, happened to be on pay day! Immensely popular during both wars, not only as a salve to the rigors of war, but as a chance to win some easy money, meant bingo had a firm place in the nation’s heart.
These servicemen once de-mobbed, took with them their love of the game and it became a regular form of gaming in service and working men’s clubs across the country.
Popular Bingo Sites in the UK for the Average Joe
Bingo over the years has been used, by the masses, as a distraction for many generations. In the inter-war years poverty was rife and good bingo sites were found on waste ground and semi-permanent fairs. Peckham in South London seems to have had many, with one based in premises on Peckham High Street, and was considered the best bingo site in the area. The game run by a Mr. Hart was notorious with up to 60 players at once, games running from ten in the morning to six at night, and queues into the street waiting to get a seat.
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While cash prize games were still very much a black market affair, bingo for prizes was getting more common at holiday destinations. Beach fairs and amusement arcades had permanent games and started using table top mechanical cards instead of paper. These arcades have stood the test of time and are still seen today at some locations.
The Catholic Church had a relaxed view on gambling in moderation and used bingo as a staple fund raiser for many years. A rapid influx of Irish workers searching for work immediately post WW II meant Catholic churches needed to grow. While the men rebuilt the British infrastructure destroyed during the war the families needed succor, funds were required to build schools and community centres and in Liverpool bingo was even used to raise money to help build a cathedral.
At one time or another schools, hospitals and village fates across the country have all used bingo as a fund-raiser, it seems the game is played everywhere and has been a very successful tool within the charity world.
Enjoy the Thrill and Experience Online Bingo for Yourself
Bingo has been around now for hundreds of years it is such a simple game, yet it delivers a level of excitement that just keeps people playing. Couple that with the opportunity make some money and it looks like bingo is not going anywhere. In fact the number of people playing the game is steadily rising and with technology advancing rapidly the gameplay will be more and more user friendly. The competition in the market will keep companies customer focused, with more promotions and freebies it can only be a good thing for the avid bingo playing public.
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