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Bingo Basics: History and Guide for Playing Online Bingo

Bingo Basics: History and Guide for Playing Online Bingo

Many of us in bingo learned how to play during the days of good luck charms, drives down Main Street and sitting in those orange plastic chairs of the local smoke-filled bingo hall with a box of popcorn, markers and a stack of paper cards.

Unbelievably, the game of bingo goes back even further than those strange and forlorn times.

If you just want to know how to play bingo skip on down the page ¬– but for those interested in the history of bingo, we’ve got an interesting lesson on the game’s origins.

Lucky Lesson: Bingo as a Global Phenomenon

In Merilyn Simonds Mohr’s book, The New Games Treasury, we learned that bingo dates to 1530 Italy – its ancestor was a game called Lo Giuoco del Lotto de Italia. Will bingo ever be properly attributed to the land of Lucky Luciano and become an Italian craze again?

Not likely, but believe it or not that ancient game of Lotto featured a distinct similarity to modern online bingo: Five numbers on small wooden carvings were drawn from a cloth bag with 90 numbers in play. Players had boards with three columns of numbers, nine rows across for a total of 27 potential winning numbers. The first column had numbers ranging from 1-10, the second had numbers ranging from 11-20, and so on. The first player to score a horizontal row across was declared the winner of "The Clearance of The Lot of Italy."

From there, the wellspring of rules for modern bingo would surface. Before it became a favorite in the congenial local gambling halls the game became known for, bingo was actually used as an educational tool in 1800s Europe.

Today you can play bingo anywhere, but it wasn’t until a man named Edwin Lowe that it made it to the mainstream. Lowe, a 20th century toymaker who also lays claim to popularizing the game of Yahtzee, had a bright idea: He partnered with mathematician Carl Leffler to increase the number of potential winning combinations, thereby increasing the number of bingo cards sold. After all, Lowe was selling packs of 12 cards for a buck and 24 cards for two dollars. From there the game took on a life of its own as a church fundraising device, and by the 1930s it was being played all across the US.

During the Great War era, boxed sets of bingo made it into the hands of soldiers who would pass their downtime learning how to play bingo. Much later in the 20th century, friends learned how to play bingo online at a little free-to-play site called Bingo Zone. The number of game variations has since grown, and the most popular bingo sessions involve either fixed jackpots or progressive jackpots with daily promotions at sites like BingoVillage featuring 75-ball bingo, 90-ball bingo and more.

So bingo can be enjoyed by everyone, chat rooms are included for online bingo communities to preserve the social element that’s been integral to making bingo fun across the centuries.

How to Play Bingo

There’s been a surge of popularity in online bingo in the past couple of years, with one of the West’s favorite past times regaining its cultural foothold with people spending more time online.

As long as you have an internet connected device, you can learn how to play bingo online and incorporate it into your regular leisure time both at home and on the go. During the sign-up process be sure to put your correct personal information and home address, that way you have a chance to win prize money and Bonus Bucks.

There are multiple free-to-play options, but you can also wager real money by making a deposit into your BingoVillage account.  

In order to work bingo in your favor, it’s best to buy as many cards as possible – and consider the different ways to win. Unlike those Italian games of Lotto from bingo’s infancy, you can win with more than a straight horizontal line. Patterns (see: Bingo Lingo below) may include number 7, four corners, 2 lines, letter H and more depending on the game rules.

Most of the time you’ll be in a game with an auto-daub feature with a friendly, virtual dealer who calls out a series of random numbers. You must have at least one bingo card to play, and the first player to complete a pattern wins.

Types of Bingo Games

Let’s start with the most popular types of bingo, which are available here at BingoVillage.

75-Ball Bingo - Fast-Paced Fun

75-Ball Bingo is popular in the US, and for good reason. It's fast-paced, exciting, and easy to learn. Like the pitch clock in baseball, this was designed to increase the speed of bingo games. There are still a variety of ways to win, and playing with fewer balls means everyone can dip in for a break and dip back out to go on about their business.

90-Ball Bingo - The Classic Experience

90-Ball Bingo is a great choice for players learning how to play bingo, remaining popular across the world and doubly so here at BingoVillage. It's a classic variation with unique patterns to win by, potential for big prizes and fun for everyone. With 27 squares on 3 horizontal and 9 vertical lines, games typically take longer to finish making this a more relaxed style of bingo.

80-Ball Bingo - A British Way to Win Big

Originally referred to as shutterboard bingo, this distinctly English variation of bingo offers players different ways to win on colorful cards with 16 squares. With its 4x4 grid, 80-Ball Bingo is easy to follow and usually draws in a lot of players. With more players, there are bigger jackpots.

A ton of creative, real-life bingo variations have also emerged with the game’s resurgence like rock & roll bingo where a DJ plays a song and if it’s on your card, you mark it. One thing’s for sure: There’s no shortage of fun ways to play when you’re learning how to play bingo.

Which Bingo Game is Right for You?

Whether you’ve got a shoebox full of old bingo markers or just now learning how to play online bingo, there's a game style that suits you. Rules of thumb to consider:

•    For fast-paced fun, try 30-ball and 75-Ball bingo
•    For the classic, relaxed bingo experience play 90-Ball bingo.
•    If you're looking for big jackpots and a modern experience, 80-Ball bingo is perfect.

After claiming your Welcome Bonus, we recommend trying the classic game of bingo before branching out into games with zany wrinkles. Take a seat in the Cozy Café and remember, always play within your budget and do so responsibly.

Bingo Lingo

Although a lot of bingo terminology remains exclusive to the in-person style of playing, a lot of bingo verbiage carries over to folks learning how to play bingo online. We’ve got a quick guide to get you up to speed so that you’re speaking the same language as everyone else at BingoVillage. Consider this your bingo dictionary as you grow into an expert bingo player.

Bingo Board (aka Flash Board)
An electronic or virtual display board that lights up with the letters or numbers being drawn.

Bingo Machine
These are old school selection devices that actually pluck bingo balls, drop them into a ball tray. A bingo machine online is basically an algorithmic random number generator (RNG). These are tested and audited by third-party organizations before being deployed to sites like Bingo Village.

Blackout (aka Coverall)
This refers to a style of game where the winner has to have their entire card covered – all numbers must be called to win.

Bonanza Bingo
This is a progressive coverall jackpot variant of bingo where a separate bingo card is used throughout sessions of consecutive bingo games. Typically, numbers are drawn in this side game until someone has a coverall. The jackpot grows with the number of bonanza cards sold.

The person or virtual character calling out the numbers as they are drawn.

This refers to the number of balls called in each games

Chat Game
These are sets of games played in chat rooms moderated by a host.

Coverall Jackpots
There’s usually no predetermined number of calls required for a coverall, which is a game where you need to mark every number on your card to win. Games are typically played until a person wins the prize pool.

In person, these are typically ink-filled pens with foam tips – but online, you daub your bingo card with a click of the mouse or tap of the touch screen (if auto-daub isn’t available).

Early Bird Game
These are bingo games that start before regularly scheduled sessions. While fewer players are typically involved, your chances may be higher of winning as an early bird – no worms required.

Game Board
This is yet another name for a bingo board.

Hard-Way Bingo
In this variation of the game, you have to score a straight line without using your free space in order to win.

Hard Ball
It’s simply the first ball drawn at the beginning of a bingo session.

This is referred to the total prize awarded to a person who achieves a specified number of balls or pattern.

Lights Out
This is an old school term that means we’re on the last game of the night.

Minimum Buy-In
The least amount you can spend on a particular game of bingo with cash prizes.

An old term for the number of bingo faces per sheet. They determine how many chances you’ve got to win a single game of bingo – e.g. a 6 ON bingo sheet gives you 6 chances to win.

There are different shapes or lines once bingo squares are daubed after your number is called. These are called patterns – straight lines, typically a vertical or diagonal in direction (unless it’s a blackout/coverall game).

Progressive Jackpot
This refers to a jackpot that gets bigger until someone claims it. Depending on the game’s rules, a progressive jackpot builds over time – number of consecutive games played daily, weekly or monthly. If there is no winner at the end of a game of bingo with a progressive jackpot, it will grow as more entries are purchased. Sometimes there is a separate buy-in for progressive jackpots so that you can enjoy a regular game of bingo while the progressive game builds momentum.

Rainbow Pack
In traditional bingo halls, multi-colored bingo cards are sold in packs that let players play for more than one type of prize.

No, not six bottles of your favorite brew… In bingo, this refers to a winning pattern with six squares in the shape of a block.

Speed Game
This is a type of coverall game where numbers are called out quickly until a blackout is awarded, and typically the winner will split the pot with the host of the game.

Split Pot
This refers to a game where winners split the proceeds with the house.

Triple Bingo
This variation of bingo requires players to secure three lines across the card to win, either vertical, horizontal or diagonal.

This is the amount players pay in advance to be qualified for winning special prizes.

Wild Number
In specified games of bingo these can be used as a substitute for any other number on a bingo card, making it easier for players to win. In other cases a wild number might be a single digit, like “7” that allows all players to daub numbers with that digit on their cards – e.g. 17, 27, 37.

The action of getting your money from an online bingo account. There are a few ways to get your winnings out of online sites like BingoVillage, for more information check here.

Wrap Up
The last game of a bingo session.