The world of bingo has changed. Long gone are the days of smoky bingo halls and an ageing clientele. Online bingo has made this beloved game accessible to millions of people around the world, who log in and play from their computers and mobile devices to enjoy this easy, exciting and social game.
The rules of bingo are very simple and this too has contributed to the game’s surge in popularity. Completely luck-based, even new players can enjoy bingo games and the warm welcome they offer. Because there is virtually no skill involved, anyone can pick this game up quickly.
Read on to learn all about the rules of bingo, the different ways one can win and the variations of the game that you are likely to encounter, both online and in dedicated venues.
The basic online bingo rules
The game of bingo comprises two parts. The first is the caller. In traditional bingo, this would be a person operating a random number generator and calling out the number. In online bingo, this part is done automatically by the software.
The second part of the game is the bit that involves the player’s participation. Before the start of the game, the player buys one or more tickets. While traditional bingo uses paper tickets, a virtual alternative comes into play when enjoying bingo online. These are still called tickets or cards and their function is the same as in the traditional game.
Each time a number is called, the player takes a look at their tickets and marks them when they see the called number. This is called ‘daubing’ and in traditional bingo, players would use a special felt-tip pen to fill in the cards. Online, most games do something called ‘auto daubing’, which fills the tickets in automatically, freeing players up to enjoy the social atmosphere without worrying about missing anything.
The objective of the game is to win one of the three prizes by matching the numbers on the tickets to the numbers being called. These are called winning patterns and we will explore those next.
The winning patterns
Bingo tickets can differ in their layout but all will have rows of five numbers. Many traditional games use a 9×3 grid, with numbers interspersed with blank spaces, while most online bingo games use 5×5 cards.
Regardless of the ticket’s layout, the objective is to achieve one of the three winning patterns possible in bingo. We have listed them below in the order in which they are won during the course of a bingo game.
This is the simplest winning pattern to understand. The called numbers are in a straight line, which can be horizontal across the grid, vertical down one of the columns or diagonally. Some games only consider horizontal lines as wins, so make sure to check which rules are in play before you start.
This is much the same as the previous pattern except that two lines are formed instead of one. The two lines do not need to be on the same ticket where one line was formed but they do have to be on the same ticket as each other.
The name of this pattern explains it – the Full House is when all the numbers appearing on the card have been called. This pattern offers the biggest prizes and is the most desirable outcome as a result.
Different types of bingo games & their rules
The basic rules of bingo apply to all versions of the game but some games are slightly different in the way they operate.
90 Ball Bingo rules
As you might have guessed, there are 90 balls in play in 90 Ball Bingo and the numbers 1 to 90 can feature on the tickets.
- Numbers are arranged on a 9×3 grid on each ticket
- Each column contains 4 empty squares and 5 numbers, dispersed at random
- Players can win on 1 line, 2 lines or Full House
- Typically played with 6 cards/tickets at a time
80 Ball Bingo rules
The numbers 1 to 80 are in play during 80 Ball Bingo and we notice differences in the appearance of the cards here.
- 16 numbers are arranged on a 4×4 grid on each ticket
- Usually played on 5 tickets/cards simultaneously
- There are four ways to win this variation of bingo: Any Single Line; Any Line, House; Any Line, Column House; Full House
75 Ball Bingo rules
The numbers 1 to 75 can be called in this version of bingo. Pattern Bingo is sometimes played in 75-ball. During a Pattern bingo game, a specific pattern is announced at the beginning of play and anyone who forms said pattern on a single card wins. Patterns can be diamonds, chevrons, crosses, checkmarks or others
- Cards have a 5×5 layout, with 25 numbers on each card
- Players usually play with 3 or 4 cards simultaneously
30 Ball bingo rules
Often called Speed Bingo, the smaller number of balls involved in this version means that games take just a few minutes to complete.
- Cards have a 3×3 layout, with 9 numbers on each
- There are no free spaces on the card
- With fewer numbers to be called, players are guaranteed an exciting experience
5 Line Bingo rules
This variation of 75 ball bingo includes the numbers 1 to 75 but it has slightly different rules when it comes to winning patterns.
- Cards have a 5×5 layout, with 25 numbers and no spaces
- Players can win with one line, two lines, three lines, four lines or the full house of five lines
Flash Fives rules
This is also known as 52-5 bingo and is an interesting hybrid of the game that uses a deck of playing cards instead of numbers.
- Tickets are known as hands and are purchased at the start of the game. Each hand has 5 cards
- Instead of numbers, the caller announces randomly drawn cards
- The objective is to match all five cards in a hand to the announced numbers
- Players can buy multiple hands to play in the same game
- The first player to match 5 cards in a hand is the winner and if multiple players win, they get an equal share in the prize pot
Progressive jackpot bingo games rules
This type of bingo game utilises the same rules as progressive jackpot slot games i.e. a massive prize pool is accumulated as players lose games, with their wagers going towards the pot. Progressive jackpots tend to grow the longer they go without being won so even modest starting pots can develop into significant amounts.
Any type of bingo can be played with a progressive jackpot but in most cases, players will need to satisfy some requirements such as completing a full house within a set number of balls.
Other bingo games rules
There are other types of bingo games out there, some of which can only be found at certain casinos online. Here are a few of the more interesting ones:
- Passing Bingo: When a player hits bingo, they are eliminated from the match and the last man standing is the winner
- Bingo Bonanza: Using numbers 1 to 43, this can be played with all odds, all evens, or all numbers
- Bingo U-Pick Them: Similar to Keno and lotteries, in this game players pick the numbers they need to win and wait to see if they are called
Bingo is a game whose success online is inversely proportional to its success as a traditional online casino game. As bingo halls around the UK continue to shut down, online bingo is reaching more and more people around the world. The simple rules and cheap cost of the game have no doubt contributed to this surge in popularity.
Frequently asked questions about bingo rules
Here you will find some frequently asked questions about bingo rules.
How can I learn the bingo rules?
The rules of bingo are simple and there are only a few of them. Take a look at our guide above to get an overview of how to play. Then start playing your favourite bingo variants!
What are progressive jackpot bingo games?
These games involve a prize pot that continues to grow the more players play. Any variation of bingo can include a progressive jackpot and the ones that do will advertise this feature clearly. Different bingo variants also have different rules for winning the bingo jackpot, so it’s best to check the rules before starting to play.
How to choose the best bingo variant?
The best way to find out which type you like is to give them a try! Bingo rules are very similar across the different variants of the game so it should not be too difficult to switch between one type and another as you decide on which to stick with. The most popular bingo variants are 90 Ball Bingo and 75 Ball Bingo.
Can online bingo be rigged?
No. Online bingo uses secure, tested software to randomly generate numbers, much like the type used in slot and table games. Casinos go to great lengths to ensure all their games are totally fair.