Online bingo is the game of bingo (US|UK) played on the Internet. Online bingo is a multi billion dollar business.
Unlike balls used in regular bingo halls, online bingo sites use a random number generator. Online bingo halls usually offer online casino games as well as the bingo, but the actual bingo play works almost exactly like playing online poker or online casino games, with everything being virtual. One notable feature of online bingo is the chat functionality. Successful online bingo sites foster a sense of community and interaction between players.
Some operators require players to download free software to play their games. Other operators use Java or Flash based games that allow you to play immediately online after registering a player account.
Free games are available, but before playing for real money players are required to fund an account. Most sites accept a standard range of e-wallet funding options, such as Neteller, Firepay, Citadel and PrePaidATM.
Sites often provide a number of incentives to deposit, including matching bonuses where the site will reward depositing players by matching a percentage of their deposit.
How to play
Bingo is one of the easiest games to play and the online version is no different. Playing bingo online, players can make use of optional features which make playing the game easier, such as auto-daub. Auto-daub automatically marks off the numbers on cards as they are called, so players don’t have to. Most software providers support other gaming features as “Best Card Sorting” and “Best Card Highlighting” where players cards are sorted and highlighted by closest to bingo. Some of these features are designed to free players to enjoy the communal pleasantries of the chat features.
Chat & the CM
The Chat applet brings a different dimension to gaming. This is where all the players of a game can meet and chat during games of bingo. Whereas in land-based bingo where talking is strictly forbidden during a game, it is actively encouraged in online bingo. Chat functions as an effective retention tool, aimed especially at the predominantly female audience.
CM stands for “chat monitor”. The CM works for the bingo site as the host of a chat room and plays a role in welcoming players and creating a friendly and communal atmosphere in the room. This includes, but is not limited to, congratulating players when they win a game as well as playing chat games in-between bingo. Most sites have a chat protocol known as chat etiquette or chatiquette.
90 Ball versus 75 Ball
There are two types of bingo played around the world. North America plays 75-ball bingo on a 5×5 card with the centre square usually marked ‘free’. In the UK, parts of Europe, Australia and parts of South America they play a 90-ball game, marked on a 9×3 card. Both types of bingo are prominent online.
The desired pattern which players aim to achieve in 75 ball can vary dramatically, from a simple single line to more complicated themed patterns. The aim of the game, however, is always the same: to mark off the numbers to achieve the desired pattern. Speed Bingo is a variation played exactly the same, but numbers are simply called much quicker.
In 90-ball bingo, each card has three horizontal lines and nine columns. Each line contains five numbers, meaning each card has 15 numbers. The first column contains numbers from 1 -10, the second column contains numbers from 11-20, all the way through to the final column which contains numbers from 81-90.
A game of 90 ball bingo will normally be played in three stages: one line, two lines and Full House. In a “one line” game players need to mark a complete horizontal line across one card (i.e. 5 numbers marked). The aim of a ‘two lines’ game is to complete any two marked lines horizontally across one card (i.e. 10 numbers marked). Finally a “Full House” means all the numbers marked off on one card (all 15 numbers), as in a regular coverall game. The prize split differs for each stage of the game. The Full House is always the largest prize in any one game.
There are a number of sites that will have the same promotions, similar graphics, the same bingo rooms and the same CMs. This occurs because they are part of a bingo “network”. In very simple terms, this means a number of different sites (or “front ends”) are playing with the same numbers for the same jackpot. Multiple sites act as doorways to a single game, leading to larger pools of players in chat and sizeable pots to win.
Online bingo in the UK
Bingo is now the most popular leisure activity in the UK for women between 20 and 25 years old. The UK market has seen an influx in big brand names launching bingo games on their already established websites. Huge brand names such as Yahoo!, Virgin, AOL UK and most recently MSN UK are all now associated with the UK online bingo market. Gala Bingo the biggest bingo operator in the UK is also now online, this is as well as other brand names such as:
The Sun, plus most other tabloid newspapers
Hit UK TV shows such as Coronation Street, Emmerdale and I’m a Celebrity
A number of products from one of the UK’s leading media companies, Emap plc. These include MagicFM, Top Sante, Yours and New Woman.
Keith Chegwin now has his own branded bingo game.
Former Atomic Kitten star and celebrity mum Kerry Katona signed a £500,000 deal to be the face of Bingos.co.uk.
Notable bingo software providers include: