There is some debate over who first wrote, “Britain and America are two nations divided by a common language”. However, whether it was George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, or anyone else, they could well have been talking about bingo.
Bingo is a game enjoyed by players on both sides of the Atlantic, but as with so much about Britain and America, there are some big differences between how the game is played in each country. In fact, they are really two separate games. In Britain 90-Ball Bingo is the most popular while in America, 75-Ball Bingo is the default game.
Here we will take you through the differences so that you can enjoy playing bingo no matter where you find yourself. In any case, if you don’t have the opportunity to cross the ocean, you can always try them both online at one of our best bingo sites.
The first difference that will strike you when you visit a bingo hall in either country is the layout of the bingo cards that are used.
In British bingo, cards usually consist of a 9×3 grid with each column representing a different number range. The first column will contain numbers from 1 to 9, the second will contain numbers from 10 to 19, and so on, up until the final column, which contains numbers from 80 to 90. Generally, there are three ways of winning, by covering a single row (1 Line), by covering two rows (2 line) or by covering all three rows (Full House).
In American bingo, cards usually feature a 5×5 grid with numbers in all positions other than the centre square. Each column in the square is labelled with a letter, B, I, N, G, and O, and the numbers are divided between the columns as follows: B: 1 to 15, I: 16 to 30, N: 31 to 45, G: 46 to 60, and O: 61 to 75. Amazingly, as many as 300 different patterns can be formed on these cards. The number of prizes on offer will depend on the game. However, the most common patterns are the diagonal, the ‘X’, and the blackout).
Many people are surprised to learn that there is often a difference in the way the numbers are called. In British bingo, the numbers are called in a completely random order, often with the numbers drawn from a drum. In American bingo, some games actually follow a calling pattern. The numbers are called in the order of B-I-N-G-O. This means that players will not have to spend as long searching on their cards for numbers, which helps to speed things up.
British bingo is famous for its number rhymes. These rhymes also have regional variations within the UK. Not all of the rhymes are obvious. For example, the number ‘2’ is called “One Little Duck”. This has nothing to do with rhyming, but it is about how the number looks. However, some are truly straightforward; for instance, the number 4 is “Knock at the door”.
There are a few terms that are different in the UK and America. To begin with, in Britain, people play with bingo “tickets” while Americans will play with bingo “cards”. Furthermore, in the UK, the act of crossing numbers off is called “daubing” while in the US it is more often called “marking”.
In addition to the differences in how the games are played, bingo also has a different role in British and American culture. In the UK, bingo is very much linked to the idea of community and social events. It is often used to raise money for charity and for a long time, the local bingo hall was a place to socialise as much as play. In America, the relationship between bingo and gambling is far stronger. The game is more closely associated with casinos and it is unusual for it to be treated as a community event. If you still don’t see any differences, you can always try them both online at one of our online casino sites.
American bingo has the potential to offer far more prizes per game than British bingo, and as such, it is more competitive. While the focus in British bingo halls is on having fun and catching up with friends, in American bingo, it is very much about winning prizes. This doesn’t mean that the games are unpleasantly competitive, just that there is a different bingo culture.
A surprising difference in the bingo cultures of the two countries is that in Britain, bingo is still attracting young players. The majority of bingo hall visitors in the US tend to be over 50 whereas in the UK there are many players between the ages of 18 and 30 as well. There are several reasons for this such as the accessibility of online bingo in the UK and the effort that bingo halls have gone to in the UK to attract a younger demographic through themed nights, parties, and so on.
No matter where you live, you can easily play both British and American bingo today. There is no need for you to play just one version. British Bingo tends to be slower, more relaxed, and has a smaller emphasis on prizes. American bingo is faster paced with a bigger focus on the gambling aspect. Having read the above article, you have all the knowledge you need to enjoy either form of the game, so simply decide which one appeals more and start playing.
There is nothing to stop you from trying the other form afterwards if you so wish. Whether you’re a bingo enthusiast or simply looking for a new way to socialise and have fun, both British and American bingo offer something worth exploring.