A Game of Numbers
90 ball is the traditional British form of bingo. It is played on a 9 x 3 card with some spaces left blank. Each line contains numbers in 5 of the 9 spaces. Each column contains 0 – 3 numbers and in column 1 these are from numbers 1-10, in column 2 from numbers 11-20, in column 3 from numbers 21-30 and so on. Prizes are given for completing 1 line, for completing 2 lines and for completing full house (all 3 lines). This type of bingo is the bread and butter of UK bingo sites and you’ll find it at all of them, usually 24/7. It should be noted, however, that the rules for generating 90 ball bingo cards are NOT the same at all bingo sites. Some use a skewed number distribution (traditional in bingo halls) with the first column being 0-9, the second 10-19 and so forth up to 80-90 in the last column. Some require the numbers in the columns to appear in numerical order and some do not. At some sites there cannot be any blank columns. Dragonfish, for instance, allows blank columns and does not enforce numerical order – but at Virtue Fusion there are no blank columns and the numbers have to appear in numerical order. These differences can be seen in the below screenshots; on the left is a strip of tickets from a Dragonfish bingo site and on the right is a strip of tickets from a Virtue Fusion/Playtech bingo site. One result is that there is a smaller total number of possible 90 ball cards at Virtue Fusion, – but still an extremely large number.
75 ball bingo is the version that is most popular internationally and is played on a 5 x 5 card with all spaces filled with numbers although the centre space is usually marked off for free. Column 1 only contains numbers from 1 – 15, column 2 from 16 – 30, column 3 from 31 – 45, column 4 from 46 – 60 and column 5 from 61 – 75.
75 ball bingo has a number of sub-variants.
- In a coverall game the player must daub all numbers.
- Pattern bingo is a 75 ball variant where a pattern is marked out on the card and to win the player just has to daub all the numbers that are included in the pattern.
- 5 line (also known as Swedish Bingo) is a 75 ball variant with prizes for 1 line, 2 lines, etc. On the 5 x 5 card the lines can be horizontal, vertical or diagonally from corner to corner. The centre space is generally NOT free in this type of 75 ball game.
75 ball games can include any or all of these scoring methods. For example, Bede Gaming’s 75 ball games have 3 prizes – one for 1 line, one for the pattern and one for the coverall.
Most UK bingo sites include 75 ball rooms but because the emphasis tends to be more on 90 ball there is usually a smaller choice of 75 ball rooms and they may not be available round the clock.
80 ball bingo is played on a 4 x 4 card with all spaces filled and it looks different to other types of bingo card, with different colours for each column and shutters to cover the numbers rather than a dauber. This is because it is based on the mechanised cash bingo games played at UK bingo halls in the intervals between live caller bingo games. Column 1 (red) only contains numbers from 1 – 20, Column 2 (yellow) from 20 – 40 and so on. Scoring is on the same principle as 75 ball but without the diagonal lines. 80 ball is found at Cozy bingo sites and at Tombola and there is also a Virtue Fusion network 80 ball room, but not all sites have it.
50 ball bingo is played on a 5 x 2 card with all spaces filled, numbers 1-10 only in Column 1, etc. Prizes are for one line and full house. 50 ball bingo is found at Cozy bingo sites, at Tombola, and can be played at Gala Coral under the name Coconut Island Bingo (see below).
30 ball bingo is played on a 3 x 3 card with all spaces filled. Column 1 only contains number from 1 -10, and so forth. The prize is for full house only and the games are usually over very quickly indeed. 30 ball bingo is found at Cozy bingo sites.
Some bingo sites run card games and while at first sight you might think them quite different from bingo, the game mechanic is exactly the same with cards being dealt from a full deck in lieu of bingo balls being called, and matched against a hand of cards in lieu of a bingo card. While a deck of cards may be considered to be visually more interesting than an array of numbers, the games themselves are arguably less interesting as having 5 or 9 cards to mark off out of 52 or 54 involves a lower hit rate than collecting 15 numbers out of 90 or 25 numbers out of 75.
Joker Jackpot, which is found at many Virtue Fusion sites, is a bingo style game played with an array of 9 playing cards instead of a bingo card. Cards are dealt from a full pack (including 2 jokers) instead of numbers being called, and there are prizes for the J pattern and for a full hand (full house), plus a fixed jackpot for winning full hand in 16 or fewer cards and a progressive jackpot for winning full hand in 14 or fewer cards with a joker as the final card .
Super Snap is a networked bingo style card game by Gamesys. Each hand contains 5 cards and a player can buy up to 5 hands per game (potentially expensive as they are £1 each). Super Snap includes 3 ways to win. The first way is Match Bonus and this is what happens if your 5 cards form a scoring poker hand. Each type of poker hand pays a multiple of the £1 hand price, from 2x for 2 pairs up to 250x for a Royal Flush (which does not seem much given that the chances of being dealt one are approximately 1 in 650,000) . The second way is the Lucky Charm Bonus. To get a Lucky Charm, buy the maximum 5 hands. At the end of the game all players with the Lucky Charm that is called (there are several) share in the Charm Jackpot. The third way is to call snap by matching all your cards and the prize for this is determined by the number of hands sold. There’s also a progressive jackpot which can be won by matching all 5 cards in 7 calls or fewer; the winner gets 40% and the other players in the game in question get 60%. (The probability of a specific hand winning in 7 or fewer calls is around 1 in 120,000).
At some Gamesys sites there’s also a version of Snap without the community progressive jackpot. Instead, if you call Snap in 5,6, or 7 calls you win a multiple of the hand price.
Cinco is Tombola’s bingo style card game and like the Gamesys one, each hand has 5 cards to match, each player can have up to 5 hands in play and the prize for matching all 5 cards depends on the number of hands sold. With 5p, 10p, 20p and 40p rooms available this game can be played more cheaply, however, and there is also a maximum of 75 players per room. Like the non progressive version of the Gamesys game, Cinco has three jackpots for winning in 5, 6 and 7 calls.
Flash Fives started to appear at 888/Dragonfish sites in Spring 2016, beginning with Foxy Bingo where it is called Foxy Fives. It is very similar to Snap and Cinco but without a progressive jackpot (as yet anyway) or any of the extra ways to win found in Snap. Hands are priced at 5p or 10p each and there’s a maximum of 5 hands per player. An important difference between Fives and the other card based games is that in the other games, buying max hands is equivalent to buying a strip of tickets and in Fives it isn’t – in other words, when you buy 5 hands in Cinco they will consist of 25 different cards but in Fives there will be some duplicates (e.g. the 9 of hearts and 7 of clubs in the game below). Rather confusingly, Fives has different names at different sites – at Costa Bingo, for instance, it is called Bingo Vegas.
In this type of variant, while the game has enhancements that provide both extra entertainment and the opportunity to win extra prizes, the base game is some form of bingo as we know it.
Deal Or No Deal Bingo was the first bingo variant to be themed on a TV show and is still extremely popular across the Virtue Fusion network. It comes in both 75 ball (5 line) and 90 ball versions and as well as the standard bingo cards and regular prizes, the red boxes of the TV show are present; 21 of these have numbers on them and these are marked off as the numbers are called, with the sums that the boxes contain also being removed from the list of possible contents. The 22nd box is given to the player who wins full house and (assuming that only one player wins) they get to play the bonus feature game to decide whether to accept the Banker’s offer for the box, or open the box (and everyone else in the room gets to vote on which they should do to help them choose). If they don’t decide in time, more than one player wins, or there are no other boxes left in the game then they get the contents of the mystery box.
Big Banker Bingo is only available at Gala and Coral and only playable on HTML5 (mobile, tablet, and the new bingo lobby). It is essentially the same as the 90 ball version of Deal Or No Deal Bingo but with the red boxes replaced by golden safes and (because it is exclusive to Gala Coral rather than running across the Virtue Fusion network like the original game) fewer players competing for smaller prizes.
Take Me Out Bingo by Gamesys is a standard 75 ball bingo pattern bingo game with a bonus game. Thirty ladies appear at the top of the game area corresponding to the numbers 1-30. When the number is called the lady switches her light off. If 18 or more lights are still on when bingo is called the community jackpot is paid out and split evenly between all players who hold at least 6 tickets to the game. If 6-17 lights are still on win 1, 2, or 3 tickets to the next game. 5 or fewer is a black out.
Exclusive to Jackpot Joy, this is a regular 90 ball bingo game with two jackpots and an optional skill based bonus game in which free tickets to the next game can be won (to take part in the bonus game you have to buy at least 6 tickets to the bingo game). The progressive jackpot is triggered if bingo is called in 40 balls or fewer, and is shared 50-50 between the winner and all other players with tickets to that game; there is also the Fantastic 51 room jackpot which is paid to the winner if bingo is called in 51 calls or fewer and this is fixed at 1000x the ticket price of the game in which it is won. The Game Show Bingo bonus games are Sumo, Bungee and Balloon Pop; in each game you can win up to 6 tickets for the next game based on your personal score and another 6 based on the community score of everyone who takes part.
Bejeweled Bingo is a 90 ball variant that is very similar to Game Show Bingo and is also exclusive to Jackpot Joy. The bonus game is the Bejeweled Challenge where you have one minute to play the classic match 3 game and beat a target score to win free tickets to the next game and again, there is the opportunity to win tickets based on both individual and community score. In Bejeweled Bingo there is a progressive jackpot that is won if bingo is called in 38 or fewer calls and it is this particular jackpot that was responsible for the UK’s biggest online bingo win back in 2012 when one lucky player took away more than half a million pounds (larger sums have been won at other sites but on slots, not bingo).
Coronation Street Bingo, which is exclusive to Gala Bingo and Coral Bingo, is 90 ball bingo with a special room jackpot, the Golden Cobbles Jackpot. This is a bingo game within a game, with a special golden 90 ball card always in play. At the end of each game, if the ball that bingo was called on matches a number on the special card that hasn’t already been marked off, it is marked off and the FH winner gets an extra prize; a fixed £5 for any number and a room jackpot amount for a line win or full house. In the picture, the jackpot is ready to blow and will drop when a game is won on a call of 10. The FH winner of that game will win an additional £661.36 (or whatever the jackpot has grown to by then).
Available at some Virtue Fusion sites, this is themed on the iconic TV show but barely qualifies as a bingo variant at all as almost all of the time it ends up being a standard 90 ball game with regular prizes. There is an extra sliding jackpot but this only comes into play, starting at £500, if the full house is won in 40 or fewer calls (not a frequent occurrence even on a busy network). The top prize is £1 million but the number of calls required to win it is a completely ridiculous 15-17 – making the odds against winning the million pounds with the purchase of a single card a jaw dropping 336 trillion to 1! Winning the UK lottery jackpot with a single set of numbers, at a mere 45 million to one, is an awful lot more likely – and the time it would take for 336 trillion games of online bingo to be played (assuming a game starts every 3 minutes, 24/7) is a staggering 1.9 billion years (ten thousand times as long as the entire history of the human species).
This soap opera themed 90 ball variant, which is exclusive to Gala Bingo, only runs on the HTML 5 version of the Virtue Fusion platform. The game itself is regular 90 ball but (as in Rainbow Riches Bingo) there is an add-on game with extra feature prizes and jackpots. The add-on game is centered round a car which drives round and round a 90 step course; at the end of each game the car moves a number of steps equal to the number of the ball on which bingo was called. Steps 20, 40, 60 and 80 contain community jackpots and if the car stops on one of these the jackpot is shared between all those with tickets to the game. Step 90 contains a progressive jackpot which is paid to the FH winner of the game in question. Players also collect Country Miles representing the distance the car moves in games for which they buy tickets and when they collect 50 of these they get an Emmerdale bingo bonus.
Coconut Island Bingo is exclusive to Gala Coral. It is actually just straightforward 50 ball bingo dressed up with a rather attractive tropical theme (e.g. the calls are in the form of coconuts dropping from a tree and smashing open to reveal the bingo balls) and two jackpots – a fixed jackpot for bingo in 18 or fewer calls and a progressive jackpot for bingo in 15 or fewer calls. Some games are multi-stake.
Lucky Numbers Bingo is 90 ball with a special add-on game. Choose three numbers from your cards and win fixed value extra prizes if any (or all) of them are the number(s) on which the line and FH wins are called.
This 90 ball variant is exclusive to Mecca Bingo and is very similar to Lucky Numbers Bingo, but with a progressive jackpot (the Judges Jackpot) on offer for when all three lucky numbers match the balls on which the line and FH wins are called. It is a community jackpot split 50-50 between the winner and the other players.
Mecca Bingo’s exclusive 90 ball variant is very similar to Gala’s Coronation Street Bingo but with different theming and fixed prizes replacing 2 of the progressive jackpots. The Judges Desk, which is analogous to the Golden Cobbles, pays out £5 bonus for a number, £50 for 1 line, £100 for 2 lines and the progressive jackpot for FH.
Cashline is Mecca’s exclusive version of 80 ball bingo (as played during the breaks in Mecca clubs) and it comes in a mini game version (that can be played while inside another bingo room) as well as a regular version. There are two progressive jackpots and in many of the games, a pattern is pre covered.
Bounce’T is a 75 ball bingo game available at Dragonfish network bingo sites(although not all of them have it). It plays just like a regular 75 ball game apart from the fact that the prize is not fixed and bounces around within a set range during the game (£10 – £30 for a 5p ticket game) regardless of the number of tickets sold.
Roll On Bingo is a twist on both 75 and 90 ball bingo that is found at Virtue Fusion bingo sites. In a Roll On Bingo game, the game starts and is won as normal but balls continue to be called after someone completes full house (or the pattern) until a specified further number of players have completed it and they all win consolation prizes (typically bingo bonus rather than cash).
Bingo Royale is the Gamesys version of Roll On Bingo and instead of being pre-announced, the feature is triggered randomly. Instead of there being a quota of extra winners, a number of extra balls are called (up to 5) and a community jackpot is shared by everyone who wins as a result of the extra calls.
These bingo variants all either have some previously unheard of ball and card configuration, or some feature that materially alters how the game plays out.
Rainbow Riches Bingo is a fast paced and visually rich 40 ball bingo variant themed on the much loved Rainbow Riches slot and played across the Virtue Fusion network. The base game is played on cards with 8 numbers arranged as 4 leaf lucky clovers; in some games the prize is for 1 clover, in some for full house and in some for both. The game has two bonus features. The Wishing Well bonus is built up by a player individually when they play with at least 5 cards; they pick a magic number and if that is called during the game a coin is added to their personal wishing well. After collecting 100 coins they receive a bonus for the bingo game and for the slot. Rainbow Clovers are extra balls that may appear during a game (there are 2 of them) and at the end of the game the number that came up determines whether the leprechaun moves 0, 1 or 2 spaces up the 50 space Rainbow track. Progressive community jackpots are won at spaces 10, 25 and 50; if the leprechaun overshoots the space 50% of the jackpot is paid out and the rest goes back into the pot.
Cash Cubes is a 36 ball variant by Playtech and is available at a number of sites on the Virtue Fusion network, but since it is HTML5 only many of them just have it on mobile and tablet and not desktop. Each card has 12 numbers arranged around 4 cubes and the prize is for full house, with any completed cubes collected towards a bonus. A progressive community jackpot is paid if the card is filled in 18 or fewer calls. Like Mecca’s Emoji Bingo and Tombola’s Pulse (see below), Cash Cubes is a multi stake one ticket game; players pay 10p, 50p, £1 or £2 to buy in and the prize they get should they win is proportional to stake size.
The 49 ball variant Bingo Lotto is a Gala Coral exclusive. Each card has just 6 numbers (with a maximum of 49 cards per player per game) and there are prizes for 3, 4, 5 and 6 numbers, plus a hefty progressive jackpot (seeded at £25K) which can only be won by getting all 6 numbers in the first 6 calls.
Emoji Bingo and Burst Bingo are rooms running a 50 ball bingo variant that is exclusive to Mecca Bingo and available on mobile and tablet only. Players are restricted to 1 ticket each and instead of 10 numbers it contains 10 emojis (Emoji) or balloon animals (Burst). Pop them (manually or automatically) when a match happens. The games are all multi stake, with the prize money a multiple of the chosen stake. There is also a progressive community jackpot (50-50 split between the winner and all other ticket holders) which is triggered by a win in 19 or fewer calls. This game contains many of the elements of Tombola’s Pulse game (see below) which predates it.
Pulse is a fast moving bingo variant which hardly looks like a bingo game at all! Designed for play on mobile devices (but also available on desktop), it is exclusive to Tombola and has 36 balls and 12 numbers. There are two jackpots, for 16 calls and 19 calls, and a regular prize; all games are multi-stake with a range of selectable stake levels from 10p – £2 and all prizes multiples of the stake level. A maximum of 75 players are allowed per room and each player has one set of numbers only; these do not come on a card but on a set of floating bubbles and when a matching number is called you have to pop the bubble (this can be set to happen automatically). Pulse has an RTP of more than 80%.
Roller Coaster is another exclusive Tombola game. It has 40 balls; instead of numbers the balls all have faces and names and instead of cards the players have 5 seater carriages (these cost 25p each and there is a maximum of 4 per player). Each time the rollercoaster goes past, a ball falls out and if its name matches a name on one of the carriages it falls into its seat. The winner of the game is the first to fill all 5 seats in a carriage and there is a £500 fixed jackpot for doing this in 6 balls and a £5000 fixed jackpot for doing it in 5.
Bingo 60 is exclusive to Tombola. In this multi stake 60 ball game, you pay for one set of tickets, with the prizes set by stake level (25p, 50p, £1 or £2). The tickets you receive contain all the numbers from 1 to 60, but the unique twist is that the tickets are different sizes, ranging from the 6 number orange ticket to the 18 number blue ticket, and each ticket has its own prize and its own jackpot, fixed as a multiple of stake value (for instance, 4000x stake for winning with the 15 number purple ticket in 30 calls).
Wizard of Bingo is a 75 ball variant by Cozy where the aim is NOT to get full house first. In this game, which is loosely themed on the Wizard of Oz, 10 of the balls bring the Witch on to curse any card that bears that number (unless protected by the Magic Shoe ball which lasts for 5 calls) . When a card is cursed for the third time it is destroyed. Cards that complete the coverall are removed by the Monkey and the last card or cards left in the game win. Wizard of Bingo is currently only available as Level 2 of Cozy’s free bingo tournament.
Elimination Bingo is available at GameVillage and sister sites only (originally on a proprietary platform and now on Cozy). It has a similar concept to Wizard of Bingo but is less interesting. It is played with regular 75 ball cards and when the number of squares shown in the “Matches to Elimination” box has been covered, the card disappears. The last card or cards left in the game wins.
Immortal Romance Bingo is a 90 ball bingo variant by Microgaming based on the very popular online slot. The four characters who preside over the different bonus rounds in the slot – Amber, Troy, Michael and Sarah – each add a different feature to the bingo game, and in each game one of the four will be active. Each special feature acts on a strip of 6 tickets so tickets can only be purchased in strips (for cash only). Amber adds an extra ball (the Scatter Ball) to the game and when it is called up to two numbers per strip will be daubed. Troy assigns each strip a special number and when it is called vampire bats fly in and randomly daub up to 3 numbers. Michael also assigns each strip a special number and when it is called all the numbers in that column, all the way down the strip, are counted as daubed for the next 5 calls. Sarah’s Wild Vine feature works like Troy’s but the number of random daubs is 4. Each strip contains a least one special Medallion number and if one of these is called the player gets a notch on their personal power up bar. When a player has collected 20 notches they gain entry to the Chamber of Wins to spin the jackpot wheel. There are minor, major and mega jackpots to be won plus a consolation prize of free spins on the Immortal Romance slot.
Slingo is a cross between 75 ball bingo and a slot machine and was widely available as a social and partially skill based game until it was bought by Gaming Realms and turned into a real money game of chance. There are several versions of real money Slingo but the only one that can be classed as a bingo variant is Slingo Boom, the multiplayer version at Slingo.com. The other versions are single player and are essentially slot machines.
In Slingo Boom each player has a 5 x 5 card which is basically a 75 ball card without the middle square marked off. The numbers appear on the five reels at the bottom of the play area and while each player has different numbers on their card, the numbers spun on the reels are the same for everyone in the room. Win by marking off all the numbers in 1 or 2 lines (known as Slingos) or getting full house. The reels do not just contain numbers, however; to make it a bit more interesting they also contain jokers, super jokers and devils. These will be familiar to anyone who has played Slingo in one of its earlier non real money incarnations, but in Slingo Boom their effect is purely automatic. The joker randomly marks off a number from the column above the reel it appears on, the super joker randomly marks off a number from anywhere on the board, and the devil is a null symbol ensuring no-one can mark off a number from that column on that spin. Unlike all other versions of Slingo, Slingo Boom has no maximum number of spins and play continues until someone wins.
Here we look at a few terms which you might think would refer to variant forms of bingo, but don’t really.
This term is used to refer to different things at different bingo sites. It could mean either a regular 75 or 90 ball game with the calls done much faster than normal, or one of the fast playing variants such as 30 ball (described above).
This term is used to refer to a series of regular bingo games where instead of buying tickets for each game individually, you can only buy tickets for the entire session e.g. buying 6 tickets for the session gives you 6 tickets for each game in the series. The games themselves are no different to regular games.
Various versions of team bingo (often called chat tourneys) run at different bingo sites. Sometimes it lasts for a whole month but more commonly it only runs in specified rooms at specified times or on specified games. The bingo games themselves are just the same as normal and in most versions of team bingo the aim is to be on the team that gets the most bingo wins; prizes are usually bonus or loyalty points. The version found at some Virtue Fusion sites is a bit different – it involves an extra Team Bingo jackpot and if someone who is part of a Team wins a Team game, they get 50% of the jackpot and the rest of their team split the other 50% (if the winner is not part of a Team the pot rolls over). Because all the games play as normal regardless of whether the players are part of teams or not, team bingo cannot really be considered as a true bingo variant.
One of the most important defining characteristics of a played for money bingo game is that you are playing against other real people and that one of the real people (possibly you) will win the money. A few games that include the word onlinebingo in their name are actually solo games where you are pitted against the house – so basically, not really onlinebingo at all. As well as bingo themed slot games such as the Gala Bingo Slot and the Kitty Bingo Slot, there are instant win games such as Super Bonus Bingo by Microgaming and the various Video Bingo games by Jumpman, where the player selects some numbers or cards, a number of balls are released all at once and payouts are made for any matches. Although these instant win games may superficially look like a game of bingo, they are actually far more akin to slot machines – or single player Slingo.