Online bingo is the same game as bingo but is played via the Internet utilizing a random number generator (RNG) instead of bingo balls that are commonly found in bingo halls across the world. The game of bingo can be traced back to Italy. In the 1500’s Italians played the lottery game “Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia”.
“Bingo Zone” is widely accepted as the first online bingo game that launched in 1996. Two years later in 1998, “BINGO Blitz” emerged as an early forerunner in online bingo that helped further the success and popularity of online bingo.
How to Play Online Bingo
It is worth noting that there are many variations of online bingo and game rules will vary depending on the where you play, but as previously indicated online bingo applies the basic rules of bingo. Generally, the most common online bingo variants are 30 ball bingo, 75 ball bingo, 80 ball bingo, or 90 ball bingo.
75 Ball Bingo
By far the most popular variant of bingo (especially in the United States and the United Kingdom) is 75 ball bingo. Most bingo rooms will have an option for you to play 75 ball bingo. You then purchase 5×5 bingo cards, which are grids with 5 rows across and 5 rows down.
As the game progresses numbers between 1 and 75 are generated and revealed. If a number is announced and you have the number on your card it counts towards your potential winning pattern. In bingo, winning patterns are traditionally 5 in a row across or down, but many online bingo games use varying patterns each game so it is important to pay attention to what the winning pattern is. 75 ball bingo is often preferred due to the speed of the game and the continuous change in winning patterns.
80 Ball Bingo
80 ball bingo was created by the online game developer, Rival. Much like 75 ball bingo, players are purchase 4×4 cards and numbers between 1 and 80 are revealed until a winning pattern emerges. The differentiator is that the design of the card allows for different winning patterns such as diagonal bingo or corner bingo.
90 Ball Bingo
90 ball bingo is extremely popular in South America and Europe, particular in the UK. Unlike the traditional 5×5 card that many Americans are used to playing, 90 ball bingo cards are 3×9 and numbers between 1 and 90 are revealed until a winning pattern emerges. Additionally, each line on the bingo card contains 5 numbers and 4 empty square or free squares.
Another variant found in online bingo rooms that is relatively new is 30 ball bingo. 30 ball bingo was also created by Rival and is played on 3×3 cards and numbers between 1 and 30 are revealed until a winning pattern is achieved.
Most online bingo games have three types of jackpots: fixed jackpots, progressive jackpots, and community jackpots.
Fixed Jackpots: Fixed jackpots are a fixed amount awarded in each game regardless of how many times they are won.
Progressive Jackpots: Progressive jackpots rollover each game the jackpot is not claimed. They get larger with the more players and once a progressive jackpot is won it is reset.
Community Jackpots: A community jackpot is when all the players playing receive a share of the progressive jackpot that is won.
Legality and Where to Play
In the United States, US Bingo Halls are regulated on a state-by-state basis. Due to the varying laws found in each state, it is difficult to broadly discuss the legality of bingo whether it is a physical bingo hall or an online bingo room. For more information on online casinos and legality by state, you can refer to our dedicated page here where we discuss the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 and more.
In the US, bingo is considered a game of chance as opposed to a game of skill, therefore, this has enabled US players to access online bingo websites. There are a handful of popular online bingo sites that accept US players. They include Downtown Bingo, South Beach Bingo, BingoHall.com, Bingo For Money, Vic’s Bingo, and Bingo Billy. In addition to US players many of these sites also accept international players and in recent years online bingo has exploded in popularity.
The UK is arguably the most popular country for online bingo and due to its popularity, the regulation is a bit more formalized and developed. Online gambling is legal in the United Kingdom, and online bingo has to comply with the same rules and regulations as non-online bingo halls have to comply with.
In 2005, the UK passed the Gambling Act of 2005, which protects players and ensures fair play for all forms of commercial gaming. Furthermore, with regards to online bingo, the UK Gambling Commission requires that all companies disclose terms and conditions to its players and possess a regulatory license in order to operate.
Most European countries, such as Norway, only allow their players to play online bingo on government licensed websites. This is typically par for the course throughout Europe with a few exceptions. Germany has a stringent ban on online bingo following a federal ban in 2008. But later in 2010, Germany decided to pass its own act and licensed a few of its online operators. The licenses were valid for 6 years and the government has not stepped in to attempt to shut down or further regulate the operators, however, it remains to be seen what the future holds for these operators and online bingo.
Spain passed legislation that regulated online bingo sites and allowed the government to capitalize on the sites by gaining tax revenue. While there is no official ban, Spanish players are essentially limited to their own countries’ sites as many other websites do not accept players from Spain.
Rest of World
Despite Canada historically holding positions against online gambling, the country enacted policies in the 1970s and 1980s that enabled its residents to play online bingo without any restrictions from the government.
In Australia, many Australian companies provide their services to players outside their country and online gambling is typically regulated on a state-by-state basis. While there is a grey area in terms of “real cash” games the government usually does not enforce the rules too harshly and it is not an offense for an Australian player to access or use online bingo sites.
Many countries in the Middle East and Asia have very severe laws in place that ban all forms of gambling, including online bingo. Countries such as China, Thailand, and most Arab and African nations prohibit online bingo.