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An Overview of Online Bingo

Online bingo has been growing at a rapid rate. The latest figures estimate that in the UK alone there are more than four million players -- great news for this quick-fire group game with a highly social core.

Rules

Every bingo and bingo-style game across the world shares the same simple premise and generally the same rules: matching the numbers on a card with those called by the game. This makes for a simple, fun and exciting game, no matter where you play.

The process in most online bingo games is:

  1. Players buy a card containing a random selection of numbers arranged in a grid.
  2. The game will inform players whether they're looking for a Full House (every number), a horizontal line, or another pattern.
  3. The caller reads out randomly generated numbers, which are also displayed on the game console.
  4. Players match these numbers with those on their card.
  5. The winner is the player who successfully matches all the numbers required.

Variations

There are three basic formats nearly all bingo games will take:

  • 90-Ball Bingo | Like most UK bingo halls, these use numbers 1 to 90 in the game and tend to be either Full House or Line Bingo
  • 75-Ball Bingo | Popular in North America, this is essentially the same game with fewer numbers, although 75-Ball games will often use different win patterns to 90-Ball Bingo
  • Keno (or 80 Ball Bingo) | This is a US casino version of bingo that uses numbers 1 to 80.

Whichever you choose, you'll find a huge diversity of prizes and game styles available, each bringing its own flavour to the same tried-and-tested format.

Commonly available variations include:

  • Entry Fee | some games are free to play, and are just for fun; others can cost up to £10, with huge cash prizes
  • Guaranteed Prize Pots | the winner gets a fixed sum when they fill their card
  • Progressive Jackpots | the prize pool is based on a percentage of the total tickets bought; in linked online games, these can reach huge figures
  • Themes | some games adopt the format or style of popular TV shows and films, including quiz show formats like Deal or No Deal, available at Bet365 Bingo
  • Side Games | sites like Betfred Bingo allow players to have slots, table games and more in a sidebar, to play in between (or during) rounds.

Software

Online bingo games are developed by a range of different software companies. Some are owned by the same company as the online casinos themselves, like Bwin.Party, while others are independent specialists like Dragonfish, the online bingo industry's largest game developer, and a few are gambling software experts familiar from slots and table games, like Microgaming and Playtech.

They all know their market and they all have their own advantages, so it's important to know how each casino's software works in order to choose the right online bingo site for you. For example, some may require download to your PC desktop, while others can be played in your browser after a short load time. If you like to play on the move, you may also want to look for sites where your favourite games are mobile compatible.

The basic console functionality can change between software providers too. Chat functions, deposit and withdrawal methods and basic gameplay all have different tools, and exploring to see which one best fits your style is a good idea when you start out with online bingo.

Social

Talking during gameplay might be frowned upon in traditional bingo halls, but not in online bingo. Most bingo games will be accompanied by a Chat Room, or chat function, and it's this social element that's attracting a larger, and younger, audience to the game. In fact, it's now estimated that as many as 45% of online bingo players are under 30.

The degree to which you interact with your fellow players will depend on the game you opt to play, but some providers make this an integral part of the experience. For example, at Winner Bingo dedicated Chat Masters start conversations to keep things lively, and even oversee games and competitions in which players can win real prizes. Think of them like the caller, bingo hall manager and friendly floor staff rolled into one.

Strategy

Although bingo may be one of the easiest games to pick up, there are still strategies to consider. Firstly, there's the matter of bankroll management. In any game, whether it's poker, slots or bingo, it's vital to know your limits and monitor your spending over fixed periods of time. Finding a bingo site with a timer and clock is very useful.

Secondly, there's the issue of focus. Online bingo doesn't require the silence and concentration of a bingo hall, but there’s a lot to think about in a busy bingo lobby. If you're trying to win big, it's wise to keep track of busy games, big jackpot opportunities, special customer bonuses and reward schemes.

Thirdly, serious players may want to play the numbers. Choose how many cards you play based on your likelihood of winning and the prizes on offer. After all, if only ten people are playing for a hefty guaranteed prize, then taking the chance to enter several times may not be a bad bet. In contrast, spending on lots of tickets in a busy game may be a waste of money.

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