So, you’ve heard the buzz surrounding the online bingo industry and wondering what all the fuss is about? Well, the space is now one of the fastest growing segments of the UK gambling industry, which is remarkable when you consider the misconception that bingo is a game “dying in popularity”.
Although it is true that traditional bingo halls around the country are closing at an exponential rate, online bingo sites are seeing record account registrations.
If playing bingo from the comfort of your own home is something that potentially appeals to you – but you don’t quite understand how the process works, then we would suggest reading our comprehensive guide.
We cover absolutely everything that you need to know – such as how online bingo works, what you need to do to get started, whether the industry is safe, the types of games available, how much you can win, and more!
Before we unravel the fundamentals, let’s take a quick look at the origins of bingo, and where the industry stands today.
Bingo History: From Bingo Halls to Online Bingo Sites
Although the specific dates vary from historian-to-historian, the general consensus is that the original roots of bingo first began to grow in 16th-century Italy. Known locally as “Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia”, this lottery-style game had significant similarities to the classic 90-ball bingo game that we know and love today.
Essentially, the original version of the game would distribute bingo cards that had nine vertical rows and three horizontal rows. The pot would be paid to the first player that managed to get all subsequent numbers within a horizontal row.
Fast forward four hundred years and the game became an instant hit in the UK arena when bingo was officially regulated under the then Gambling Act 1968. In response, thousands of traditional bingo halls popped-up around the country, with millions of British players subsequently becoming members.
One of the greatest attractions for players was that the entire end-to-end bingo hall experience was very sociable. Players would normally attend games with friends and family, fully complemented by food and beverages delivered directly to tables. As such, a typical weekend evening would be spent enjoying the thrills and spills of 90-ball bingo.
However, in 2019 and beyond, very few bingo halls are still here to tell their story. With player attendances now at record lows, it remains to be seen just how much longer the traditional bingo hall industry will survive.
With that being said, the industry has since made the transition to the online space. Players can now load up games 24 hours per day without leaving their home, and most bingo sites even allow you to play on your mobile phone or tablet.
With everyday payment methods such as debit/credit cards supported, and significantly larger jackpot prizes on offer – the online bingo space is growing at a rapid pace.
The Basics of Online Bingo
Although a number of alternative variations of bingo are now available in the online space – the classic 90-ball version of the game is still the most popular. If you’ve never played bingo before – or you don’t quite understand the main rules, we’ve broken this down for you.
- 90-Balls: The classic version of the game has a total of 90 balls, ranging from 1-90. All of the balls are placed into a virtual bingo machine, and subsequently drawn one-by-one at random.
- Bingo Cards: In order to play bingo, you must have at least one bingo card. Each bingo card will contain three columns and nine rows. Within each column, your bingo card will contain five numbers and four blank spaces.
- Bingo Pot: In terms of how much you can win in a single game of bingo, this is determined by the pot. In a nutshell, bingo ticket sales go into a pot, which is then distributed to the winning players. For example, if 20 players each purchased one 50p ticket each, then the pot would stand at £10. Much like in the traditional bingo space, online bingo sites will take a small percentage of the pot to cover their costs.
- Random Numbers: Your bingo card will be assigned random numbers, ranging from 1-90. The same two numbers cannot appear on the same individual card. In total, each card consists of 15 individual numbers.
- Drawn Balls: The game will start when the first number is randomly drawn from the bingo machine. If the number that is drawn appears on one of your bingo cards, then you need to mark it with a pen. However – as you’ll be playing online, this is done for you automatically!
- Line: As you start matching more and more numbers, your initial aim is to get a ‘Line’. This is where you are able to match all of the numbers on a single row. When you do – you need to shout ‘BINGO’. However – once again, as you’ll be playing online, the win is automatically registered by the platform. In doing so, you will win the ‘Line Pot’ prize, which is a small proportion of the bingo pot.
- House: Once the line pot has been won, the game continues. This time, you are aiming to get the main prize – which is the ‘House’. In order to win, you’ll need to match all 15 numbers found on a single card. Once you do, you’ll win the remainder of the prize pot!
- Winnings: Once the main house pot has been won, winnings will then be distributed to the two winning players (line and house winners). Once this has been completed, the next game of bingo will commence!
Playing Online Bingo: What you Need to Know
Although the end-to-end online bingo experience is a seamless one, there are some important considerations that you need to make before you get started. In order to help you along the way, we’ve provided a step-by-step checklist that you are advised to follow.
Step 1: Choose an Online Bingo Site
Your first port of call will be to choose an online bingo site. In this respect, there are a number of things that you need to look out for. This includes:
- Regulation: The online gambling space in the UK is now heavily regulated, which is great news for you as the player. As per the Gambling Act 2005 – the Gambling Commission is responsible for keeping the industry safe. As a result, each and every bingo site that wishes to accept UK-based players must hold a license issued by the Gambling Commission.
This can be a long and drawn-out process for operators, as bingo sites must demonstrate that they provide the required player protections as expected by the Commission. This includes water-tight security features, the protection of customer funds, sufficient cash flow levels to honour player withdrawals, and an ability for players to self-exclude in the event that they can no longer control their gambling.
Ultimately, you need to ensure that your chosen bingo site is in possession of a verifiable gaming license before you open an account.
- Payments: As we will discuss in more detail further down, online bingo sites now offer a wide variety of payment options. This includes traditional debit/credit cards, bank transfers, and even e-wallets like PayPal and Skrill.
With that being said, you should assess whether or not the bingo site supports your preferred payment method, as you don’t want to go through the process of opening an account, only to find that it isn’t supported.
You can usually see what deposit and withdrawal options the bingo site supports by visiting the operator’s homepage, and then scrolling down to the bottom.
You should also check whether or not the casino charges any deposit or withdrawal fees – especially for your preferred payment method. Finally, check what the minimum deposit and withdrawal amounts are for your chosen payment option.
- Gaming Suite: Once you’ve crossed off regulation and payments, you should then explore what the bingo site’s gaming suite is like. By this, we mean the number of bingo rooms that the site hosts, and the types of games on offer. While most players prefer the classic 90-ball version of the game, it’s also worth seeing whether or not other variations are supported, such as 75-ball bingo.
On top of the number of bingo games hosted by the site, it’s also a good idea to see whether or not the platform offers side games. This includes popular casino games like slots, blackjack, and roulette. After all, it’s always better to remain on a single platform for all of your gambling needs, rather than having to switch across multiple sites.
- Player Traffic: Although often overlooked by newbie online bingo players, assessing the levels of traffic typically experienced by the bingo site in question is of paramount importance. If the bingo site has very little players, not only will you be accustomed to super-low prize pots, but you might struggle to find a game. On the contrary, busy bingo sites with vast amounts of registered players will always have heavy traffic, subsequently ensuring that you have access to large prize pools.
It is also a good idea to see whether the bingo site in question links its games up with other platforms. In doing so, you’ll have access to jackpot games that can often prize pots that run into the thousands of pounds. Although competition will, of course, be stronger – this is great for those of you that want to chase that big win.
- Customer Support: As is the case with any platform that you join for the first time, you need to make some considerations regarding customer support. While it is true that is somewhat difficult to gauge the level of service offered by the bingo site until you actually require assistance, you should still explore what support channels are in existence.
For example, we prefer bingo sites that offer a combination of live chat, phone, and email support. Furthermore – and perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to choose a bingo site that offers customer support on a 24-hour basis. This way – irrespective of the time of day that you need help, you’ll always be able to find it.
- Bonuses and Promotions: Although we will explore how bingo site bonuses work in more detail further down, it’s worth noting that this should also play a major role when looking for a new bingo site to join. In a nutshell, you should opt for an operator that offers a lucrative welcome package. This is typically in the form of a matched deposit bonus, free bingo tickets, free slot machine spins, and sometimes a combination of all three.
However, you should avoid focusing purely on the welcome package, as it’s also important to assess whether or not the bingo site offers bonuses to existing Otherwise, you’re likely to leave the platform as soon as you have consumed the sign-up bonus.
- Mobile Support: Finally, you should also explore whether or not the bingo site offers mobile gaming. In some cases, the bingo site might even offer a native mobile app. If they do, this is usually offered on both Android and iOS devices – free of charge. Alternatively, check whether the bingo site has optimized its platform for mobile web browsers.
The bingo site should make it super easy to navigate from game-to-game, and the in-game bingo experience should match that of the desktop version. If everything looks good, then you’ll be able to play bingo while out-and-about with ease.
Step 2: Open an Account
Once you have followed the above guidelines and subsequently chosen your preferred online bingo site, you then need to go and open an account. This is a process that rarely takes more than 2 minutes, which is great. In order to complete the account opening process, you’ll typically need to provide the following information:
- Full name
- Home address
- Date of birth
- Telephone number
- Email address
On top of the above – you’ll also need to choose a username and a strong password. Make sure that this is something you’ll remember, but at the same time something that nobody else will be able to guess!
Step 3: Deposit Some Funds
As you will be playing online bingo for real money, you will now need to deposit some funds into your newly created bingo account. Much like in the case of the account opening process, funding your account is super easy.
First and foremost, you need to decide what payment method that you want to use. While the specific payment options available will vary depending on your chosen bingo site, we have listed some of the most popular methods below.
- Debit/credit cards (Visa, Visa Electron, MasterCard, Maestro)
- E-Wallets (PayPal, Skrill, Neteller, WebMoney)
- Bank Transfers
- Prepaid Debit Cards
- Pay-by-mobile (mobile phone credit)
- Cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc)
Unless you are depositing funds via a bank transfer, then in the vast majority of cases your deposit will be credited to your bingo account instantly. As soon as it is, you can then proceed to play bingo!
Step 4: Choose a Bingo Room and Play
Now that your account is funded, you are now ready to play your very first game of online bingo. The bingo site in question will likely offer a number of different bingo rooms, so choose the one that best meets your needs. Below we have listed some of the main metrics that you need to look out for when choosing a bingo room.
- Type of bingo game (90-ball, 75-ball, etc)
- Cost of one bingo ticket
- How many players are currently in the room
- Average prize pot
- Whether the room is available for all account types, or VIP-only
- Is the room a stand-alone game, or linked with other bingo sites?
Once you click on your chosen bingo room, you will then be asked how many tickets you wish to buy. In most cases, there is no limit to the number of tickets that you can purchase, which is great.
Finally, once the game starts, you’ll be able to view your virtual tickets on-screen, alongside the virtual bingo machine. Every time that you match a number, the bingo site will automatically mark the number on your behalf.
As such, you can simply sit back and enjoy the ride without needing to move an inch! If you really fancy taking the social aspect of online bingo to the next level, you can even chat with other players via an in-game chat facility!
Step 5: Collect your winnings
If you are fortunate enough to win a game of bingo – whether that’s in the form of a line or house win, then your winnings will automatically be applied to your account balance. At any given time, you can then head over to the banking section of your online bingo account and request a withdrawal. Take note, some bingo sites will install a minimum withdrawal amount, so be sure to check this out.
Once the online bingo site has processed your withdrawal, it typically takes in the region of 1-3 working days for the funds to be credited back to your debit or credit card. If opting for an e-wallet like PayPal or Skrill, this is much faster. In fact, most e-wallet withdrawals are received the very same day, which is why we would suggest making this your primary funding method.
However, it is important to note that before you are able to cash-out your winnings, you will need to go through a simple verification process known as KYC (Know Your Customer). We’ve detailed the process in more detail in the next section.
Step 6: Confirm Your Identity
If you’ve read our Beginners Guide To Online Bingo up to this point, then you’ll remember how we noted that the UK gambling industry is heavily regulated. With that being said, all UK-based bingo websites must ensure that they meet the conditions specified within the Money Laundering Regulations 2017. In a nutshell, this requires bingo sites to verify the identity of each and every player that uses their platform.
Don’t worry though, as this is super easy. All you need to do is upload a copy of your passport or driver’s license, alongside a proof of address. Regarding the latter, this can be anything from a utility bill, bank statement, phone bill, or tax statement.
Take note, your verification documents need to be clearly visible and must show all four corners of the document in question. Moreover, your proof of address usually needs to be dated within the last 3 months.
Once you have uploaded your documents, the bingo site’s validation team will quickly check them over, before giving your account withdrawal the all-clear. After this, you will not need to verify your identity again.
As a side tip, it is always worth keeping a copy of your verification documents on your device or stored within your email account, as this will allow you to quickly confirm your identity every time you join a new bingo site!
How do Bingo Site Bonuses Work?
One of the best things about the online bingo space is that it is now a very competitive battleground for operators. What this means for you as the player is that bingo sites offer lucrative bonuses when you register an account for the first time. The reason for this is that bingo sites are competing for your business, and thus, will attempt to entice you over to their platform.
With that being said, there is a range of bonus types available in the online bingo arena, so we’ve broken these down in more detail below.
- Matched Deposit Bonus: The most commonly offered bonus type in the online bingo space is that of a matched deposit bonus. In fact, this particular type of bonus is also hugely popular in both the online casino and sports betting sectors.
In its most basic form, the bonus will see the bingo site match your first deposit like-for-like, up to a certain amount. For example, let’s say that the bingo site offers all new players a 100% deposit bonus up to £50. This means that by depositing £50, the casino will give you an additional £50 in bonus funds – subsequently giving you a starting balance of £100.
As the online bingo industry has become more competitive, some bingo sites now offer matched deposit bonuses that exceed 100%. In some cases, this can be as much as 300% of your deposit amount!
- Free Bingo Tickets: Some bingo sites prefer to offer a welcome package that consists of free bingo tickets. As the name suggests, this will give you a number of free bingo tickets that essentially allows you to play bingo without needing to purchase a ticket.
For example, you might be given 20 free tickets to be used on a particular game. In doing so, any subsequent winnings will be added to your bingo site balance – all of which is risk-free!
- No Deposit Bonus: Although much rarer than the above two bonus types, some bingo sites will offer a ‘No Deposit Bonus’. As it says on the tin, this will allow you to play a number of bingo games without having to deposit any funds.
As this particular bonus type gives you a much greater chance of walking away a winner, the size of the no deposit bonus will typically be much lower in comparison to a matched deposit bonus. This is why some bingo sites will give you the option of either a no deposit bonus or a matched deposit bonus.
- Free Spins: If your chosen bingo site also offers a slots department, there is always the chance that you will also be given a number of free slot machine spins. This allows you to play a pre-specified slot title risk-free, insofar that the spins will not cost you any money.
As great as the above bingo bonuses are, it is crucial that you understand that in some cases, you might be required to meet some wagering requirements. For those unaware, this is the number of times that you need to ‘wager’ the bonus funds before the bingo site will permit a withdrawal request.
For example, if you were to claim a £50 bonus that came with a wagering requirement of x3, then you would need to play £150 worth of bingo games before cashing out the bonus.
However, the good news for you is that bingo bonuses typically come with a significantly lower wagering requirement in comparison to casinos and sportsbooks. In fact, a lot of online bingo sites now offer bonuses that come with no wagering requirements at all!
Ultimately, you should take some time to explore the underlying bonus terms before signing up, just to make sure that there are no hidden surprises.
Beginners Guide To Online Bingo: The Bottom Line?
In summary, with the online bingo arena now one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK gambling industry, there are now dozens of leading bingo sites to choose from.
This is great for you as the player, as bingo sites are having to get more and more competitive in what they offer. On the other hand, this can make it difficult to know which bingo site to go with.
However, by following our Beginners Guide To Online Bingo to the ‘t’, you now have the required tools at your disposal to get your online bingo endeavours off on the right foot. Good luck!