Simple Bingo Rules and Instructions
​Players buy one or several bingo "Tickets" or cards with numbers on them
Players are given cards either 3 x 9 rows (UK version) or 5 rows by 5 rows (USA Version)
A caller randomly selects a ball with a number on it or online it is randomly selected though a random number generator
When your number is called you mark it off on your card or its marked off on your computer screen
The Goal of bingo is to have all 5 of your numbers called and marked off in a line across on your card
There are other variations such as two lines across or a full house, a full house is when you have all your numbers called out and marked off
The caller will typically announce what variant you are playing
The Main types of Bingo use 75 Balls or 90 Balls
Quick Guide to Playing at a Bingo Hall
Have fun but be respectful of other players
Never alter another players card in anyway
You must be over 18 years old in the UK
Double check before calling BINGO out-loud, other players can get upset or even angry at mistaken winners
Sometimes live games play 2 rounds, 1 for normal bingo and one for a full house. A full house is when a player marks off all the numbers on their card
Pay attention and listen closely to the caller

It’s easy to become a bit addicted to playing Bingo—particularly in a social hall setting where enthusiasm is ginned up with every excited winning shout.

There are simple Bingo rules, and while your acquaintance with this fun game may be recent, game historians trace the game’s roots back to the Italian lottery game “Il Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia,” first played around 1530—-about the time King Henry VIII was seeking creative ways to rid himself of Catherine of Aragon so he could move on to Anne Boleyn.

Over the centuries, the game morphed into a variety of versions. Some required cards. Most call for tokens or markers. Was it strictly a gambling obsession for adults over the ages? Not exactly. In Germany, this unique game was used to teach children multiplication tables and spelling, so next time you’re conversing about the joys of the game, throw this tidbit into the conversation.

The type of Bingo now played around the world was resurrected in the U.S. in the 1920s by a man named Hugh Ward who tried the game out at carnival venues and play even overshadowed carnival rides. Ward decided the game needed an official guide, so he authored a rule book that was copyrighted and published in the U.S. in 1933. By 1940, you would have been hard pressed to find a church or game parlor that didn’t rely upon this numbers game to raise funds or just entertain the masses. Read more about the history of bingo here.

A New Love Affair

If you conclude that Bingo is strictly the purview of the geriatric crowd with too much time on their hands, reconsider. According to the BBC, Brits are falling “back in love” with the game by the score, citing UK clubs hosting 45 million players in 2015.

The ages of players are dropping, too. Early this year, Southampton opened a 1,000-seat palace that looks more like a sophisticated nightclub than a gigantic gaming parlour. The facility caters to people of all walks of life, but particularly the young set eager to try their luck and have fun.

Spending estimates are expected to total £30m annually and that figure is projected to hold steady into 2019, in large part thanks to the development and introduction of “specialty” games like “Rebel Bingo,” a major draw for the Camden, north London crowd, where this signature version has acquired near cult status. What’s not to love about the specialty Bingo experience? Gamers flock to venues as much for the game as for DJs, cheap eats and drinks. Around 20-percent of Rebel Bingo players are students, so don’t let age stop you from indulging.

So what’s all the excitement about?

Bingo is basically a game of chance that relies upon numbers being drawn from a vessel by a caller/announcer. As each number is announced, players strike it off their player cards using anything from a chip to a “dabber.” As more numbers are pulled, the objective, to cross off more card numbers than anyone else in the game, tends to electrify the room with anticipation. Simple Bingo rules and instructions make this an activity that’s easy to learn for players of all ages.

What’s unique about the game in the UK compared to other places? The UK Gambling Commission insists that there “is no legal definition of the game, or a standard set of rules under which the game is played.” Sound fishy? We thought so too, but that’s the exact verbiage we discovered when we sought a definition from the Commission.

This is a form of gambling regulated by the government, first under the 1968 Gaming Act, and later by a gambling act passed in 2005. At that point, the Department of Culture described the game of chance as being a commercial activity that, by law, must be conducted on registered, licensed premises. It wasn’t until 2005 that multiple bingo games were allowed throughout the kingdom.

Confused? That’s bureaucracy for you. In fact, the Commission is willing to go so far as to define Bingo as “equal chance gaming” and toward that end, the authority published a helpful guide for players seeking to understand the game’s legal standing.

How does Bingo work?

No written explanation of how to play Bingo at a Bingo hall can compensate for sitting down at a table and indulging one’s inner gambler during a learn-as-you-go experience, but the following description can help as you become acquainted with simple Bingo rules:

A professional caller, usually stationed at the front of the facility, draws numbers from a manual or electronic random number generator, then apprises players of each number draw. Unlike the U.S. version of the game, there are usually no B-I-N-G-O headers atop player cards; there’s simply a 3 x 9 grid of 15 numbers (some squares have no numbers).

When a player hears that a number corresponding with one appearing on his or her card has been called, he marks the space. As more numbers are announced, players continue to block out numbers until they achieve victory, which can consist of four corners, a consecutive line, two lines or even a full house (all 15 numbers on a player’s card) that is the grand dream of any veteran Bingo player.

Bingo rules and instructions aren’t limited to a generic formula. Specialized versions can be found at facilities hosting games, but what they all have in common is that once a card is filled, the victor’s shout signals that the round is over. Every gaming facility is unique, which is why sitting down to play makes an essential introduction to protocols so you quickly learn about the way that particular version is played, and even more about your fellow players.

This video from Unibet does a good job of explaining the rules in simple terms:

10 in-person Bingo hall rules of which you should be aware

It takes more than instructions on how to play Bingo to get you up to speed. You also need lessons in player etiquette. Ask zealots who never met a hall they couldn’t turn into a home-away-from-home if they take issue with folks who don’t mind their manners and you’ll find consensus, so don’t ignore these 10 edicts:

  • Bingo players are expected to be calm, friendly and contribute to the enjoyable environment. This means no sore losers (or at least don’t let it show).
  • Always read posted rules prior to taking a seat at a venue because every facility has its own way of operating and unique playing guidelines as well.
  • Altering a player card may be tempting at first blush, but resist at all cost. The person sitting near you won’t be hesitant to turn you in. You don’t want to be shunned, banned or prosecuted, right?
  • Avoid chatting up your fellow players, no matter how excited you may be. When numbers are picked, you could drown out the caller. When in doubt, zip it up and have your conversation in-between rounds.
  • More players than you might imagine insist on repeating numbers aloud as they’re called because it helps them concentrate. Not only is this distracting but it may drown out callers announcing numbers in rapid fire order.
  • Respect players who claim “lucky seats.” They’re convinced that unless they take that particular chair, they stand no chance of winning. Superstitious? Of course. But perhaps you too will feel the need to claim a lucky seat down the road.
  • Who can play Bingo? Only adults over the age of 18 are permitted to play in the UK; some facilities don’t allow people under the age of 21. Always check a hall’s age limit first before you grab a seat.
  • If you have children, think long and hard before bringing them. Boisterous, disruptive behaviour in children is never welcome, so if you must bring them, tote toys and snacks to entertain them. Want to engender the gratitude of every player in the room? Park them with Gran instead.
  • Looking for a way to make enemies? fake fellow players out by declaring yourself a winner when you’re not. Do this and be prepared for the wrath of fellow players who, upon hearing your cry, may rip up their cards in disgust.
  • There are no hard and fast rules for tipping callers if you play at a church or fundraising event, so observe the behaviors of other players and act accordingly. Tips are expected at casino game venues; the going gratuity is five- to 10-percent.

How do you play Bingo if you want to stay home?

If you happen to be someone who likes an exciting game without having to put up with other people’s shenanigans, online Bingo has your name written all over it. While this online game is relatively new, it’s wildly popular. If you’re already familiar with in-person rules, you’re ahead of the game, but given the setting, the differences are obvious.

It’s a grand idea to take a deep breath before you use your favorite Internet browser to select the website(s) that most appeal to you, simply because there are so many. If you worry that you’ll link to a site that is a bit short in the reputation department, it’s wise to do a random survey of top UK online sites to see if the same names coming up repeatedly.

These are typical of trusted destinations that could wind up on your radar during your search for the right online site: Costa, Sun, Party, 888 Ladies, Titan, Foxy, Gala, Heart, Bucky, William Hill and more. Pick one to get started, sign up, read all information about your choices, deposit the minimum play amount and follow prompts to get the lay of the land. Can we recommend one over another? Now that wouldn’t be fair!

10 Online player protocols of which you should be aware

  • Chose an appropriate user name before you “enter” a game for the first time. If that name is deemed inappropriate or it’s being used by someone else–have a couple of backups in mind just in case.
  • Keep your fingers off that Shift key when you communicate during the game. Nobody likes to get messages WRITTEN ALL IN CAPS, and it’s particularly distracting when players are trying to stay on top of numbers being announced at warp speed. CAPS are reserved for the host and nobody else.
  • Exhibit respect for the people playing with you as well as the online host. Disrespect, arguing and other untoward behaviour has no place in an online setting, and if you happen upon a site encouraging it, bookmark other online sites as backups.
  • Think of the chat host as a member of the royal family, deserving of your utmost respect and courtesy. If you disrespect the host, you could be unceremoniously kicked out of the kingdom.
  • Online gaming websites aren’t banks or building societies; if you run out of funds, it’s bad form to ask other players to stake you to continued play. Don’t pester the host about bonuses, gifts or cash, either. Plenty of people have been kicked off sites for just that reason. Don’t be one of them.
  • Keep your colourful language, expletives and unsavory comments to yourself. Inappropriate language is no more acceptable during online play than it would be out in public. If you’ve ever had someone go off on you in cyberspace, you know how disturbing it can be. The game is fun. Don’t ruin it.
  • Stick around long enough on an online gaming site and you’re bound to have complaints, but that doesn’t mean everyone playing needs to be part of the conversation. Player complaints bring friendly chatter to an abrupt halt and hosts aren’t responsible for mediating your situation, anyway, so contact the site’s relevant complaint department and let those folks play referee.
  • If your mum convinced you that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, she probably never played online Bingo. Impersonating another player or the chat host is rude, uncalled for and bad manners. You don’t want to be a pariah, right?
  • Even if you’re a marketing careerist, it’s not your job to promote, solicit or recommend other sites while you are being hosted online. This is another situation in which you could be bounced from the site as a direct result of your carelessness.
  • Finally, ethnic, racial or sexual references have no place on online game websites for too many reasons to list here. This requires no further explanation except to say that England’s online gaming community is small. Players who act unseemly can be banned from all of these sites as a result of their demeaning behavior.
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