Housie is a gambling game played in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, where it is called Bingo. Players mark off numbers on a ticket as they are randomly called out, in order to achieve a winning combination.It is not to be confused with the similar American game Bingo, as the tickets and the calling are slightly different.
In New Zealand and Australia, housie is often used a fundraiser by churches, sports teams, and other groups, and raffles are sold before the game.
Bingo, as housie is known as in the UK (not to be confused with the similar US game Bingo), is an expanding and highly profitable business, with many companies competing for the customers’ money.
The two largest companies with bingo halls in the UK are:
- Gala Bingo (Gala Group Ltd.)
- Mecca Bingo Ltd. (part of The Rank Group plc)
As well as offering the familiar Housie/Bingo played by marking numbered books, most large clubs have their tables modified for the playing of Cash Housie or Mechanised Cash Bingo (using coin slots or, increasingly in the 21st century, an electronic credit system). This is highly profitable for the operator, with a typical “take” of fifty percent of the stake.
Usage of Bingo nicknames in the UK
Since the introduction of the electronic Random Number Generator (RNG) in Bingo Halls in the UK, the usage of the nicknames above in mainstream Bingo has dramatically decreased. Bingo with an electronic RNG is much less time consuming and it has been discovered that replacing the nicknames with a simple repetition (in the pattern “All the fives, fifty five” or “Two and four, twenty four”), has allowed bingo halls to focus on the more lucrative business of Mechanised Cash Bingo (MCB), known in Gala Bingo Clubs as Party Bingo, and Mecca Bingo Clubs as Cashline.
It is perhaps nostalgic to note that the usage of these nicknames tends to be greater where the focus of playing bingo is upon fun rather than big business; this includes British holiday resort chains such as Haven, British Holidays and Pontins, and also church halls, social clubs etc.
- An average British game of bingo takes between four and four and a half minutes.
- The average speed of a British bingo caller is 23 numbers per minute.
- The average time to check a winning claim is 30 seconds.
- There is a UK Caller of the Year Competition in which bingo callers compete for a cash prize and the chance to call the numbers in Las Vegas, as well as to become the bingo ‘ambassador’ for Britain.
- The bingo industry employs over 20,000 people from callers, and change givers to cleaners and accountants.
- There are 699 licensed and operating bingo clubs in Great Britain.
- For the year 2000 the total estimated market was around 89 million admissions.
- Over 3 million people regularly play bingo in licensed clubs.
- Players are often members of more than one club.
- Players often arrive 2 hours before the game starts, to enjoy a meal or chat with friends.
- More than two in three people go to bingo for social, rather than financial reasons.
- Many celebrities like to play bingo, including Denise van Outen, Elle MacPherson, Damon Hill, Mariah Carey, Bianca and Jade Jagger.
- In 2004 more people attended bingo than football matches in both UK leagues.
- The current Bingo Caller of The Year is Karl Seth, aged 33, from the Buckingham Bingo Club in Old Trafford, Manchester.
- All bingo halls in the UK participating in the National Bingo Game must adhere to the somewhat more strict rules on calling numbers because of the overwhelmingly large prize money (sometimes up to GBP £500 thousand). This includes a double repetition of every single number, in the format, “Fifty five, both the fives, fifty five”.
- National Bingo Game website
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