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The Ultimate Bingo Site for UK Players | Bingo UK

Bingo is a game of probability in which players mark off numbers on cards as the numbers are drawn randomly by a caller, the winner being the first person to mark off all their numbers. Bingo, also previously known in the UK as Housey-Housey, became increasingly popular across the UK following the Betting and Gaming Act 1960 with more purpose-built bingo halls opened every year until 2005. Since 2005, bingo halls have seen a marked decline in revenues and the closure of many halls. The number of bingo clubs in Britain has dropped from nearly 600 in 2005 to under 400 as of January 2014. These closures are blamed on high taxes, the smoking ban, and the rise in online gambling, amongst other things.

The game itself, not originally called bingo, is thought to have had its roots in Italy in the 16th century, specifically, around 1530.[1] Bingo originates from the Italian lottery, Il Gioco del Lotto d'Italia. From Italy, the game spread to France and was known as Le Lotto, played by the French aristocracy. The game is then believed to have migrated to Great Britain, and other parts of Europe in the 18th century.[2] Players mark off numbers on a ticket as they are randomly called out, in order to achieve a winning combination. The similar Tombola was used in nineteenth-century Germany as an educational tool to teach children multiplication tables, spelling, and even history.[3]

bingo uk

The origins of the modern version of the game, and its current name of bingo, are unclear. Early British slang records bingo as... "A customs officers' term, the triumphal cry being employed on a successful search". But it definitely gained its initial surge of popularity with the first modern version of the game appearing at carnivals and fairs in the 1920s, and is attributed to a Hugh J. Ward, who for marketing reasons most probably took the name from pre-existing slang. The patent for a modern bingo card design went to Edwin S. Lowe in 1942.

The introduction of the Betting and Gaming Act 1960 on 1 January 1961 saw large cash-prizes legalised and the launch of Mecca Bingo by Mecca Leisure Group, led by Eric Morley, who had a large chain of dancehalls and introduced bingo into 60 of them, including the Lyceum Ballroom. Circuit Management Association, who managed the cinemas and dancehalls of The Rank Organisation, was the other large operator at the time, including hosting bingo at their largest cinema, the Blackpool Odeon.[4]

A typical bingo ticket contains 27 spaces, arranged in nine columns by three rows. Each row contains five numbers and four blank spaces. Each column contains up to three numbers, which are arranged as follows, with some variation depending on bingo companies and/or where the game is played (e.g. hall, club or online):[6][7]

The game is presided over by a caller, whose job it is to call out the numbers and validate winning tickets. They will announce the prize or prizes for each game before starting. The caller will then usually say "Eyes down" to indicate that they are about to start. They then begin to call numbers as they are randomly selected, either by an electronic random number generator (RNG), by drawing counters from a bag or by using balls in a mechanical draw machine. Calling may take the format of simple repetition in the framework, "Both the fives, fifty five", or "Two and three, twenty three", but some numbers have special calls due to their significance. In some independent clubs, numbers ending in a zero are described as 'blind'. So for example, thirty would be called as 'three-o blind 30' The use of blind numbers is generally restricted to independent bingo clubs, as it is not common practice in either of the largest chains of bingo club operators, Gala and Mecca bingo.

As each number is called, players check to see if it appears on their tickets. If it does, they mark it off with a special marker called a "dabber" or "dauber", or simply cross it off with a pen or pencil, depending on the venue. When all the numbers required to win a prize have been marked off, the player shouts in order to attract the caller's attention. There are no formal rules as to what can be shouted, but most players will shout "yes" or "bingo". Some players may also choose to shout "line" or "house" depending on the prize, whilst others choose to shout "house" for any win (including a line or two lines), players may use any other call to attract the caller's attention (should they wish).

Most bingo clubs in the UK now offer electronic bingo.[10] This allows players to purchase more than the standard 6 tickets per game, thus increasing their chances of winning. Customers purchase 'bingo packages', consisting of a certain number of tickets for each game, as well as extra flyers or special tickets such as National Bingo Game tickets. The electronic terminal on which the game is played automatically marks the numbers off the tickets when each number is called. It then orders the tickets so that the best tickets in play can be seen on the screen. This allows players to purchase a larger number of tickets than they would usually be able to handle from playing on paper. Of course, the cost of electronic bingo is proportionally higher than playing the standard 6 tickets. In order to encourage more customers to play electronic bingo, clubs usually sell "Electronic Bingo Packages" which effectively makes the cost of each ticket better value for money. For example, if a club was selling strips of 6 for 12 for a session, which corresponds to 2 per ticket, then they may sell an Electronic Bingo Package of 24 tickets for 36; 1.50 per ticket.

The electronic board on which the tickets are played are usually black touchscreen terminals, with screens slightly larger than DVD cases. Players who use these terminals are required to use their club membership to add credit to their club 'accounts'[8] in order to purchase bingo tickets. When a player wins, they are still required to shout. After their claim is verified, the winnings are automatically deposited into the players bingo account. This means that the staff member who verifies their claim does not need to physically provide them with their cash winnings. The electronic boards now offer many features including Mechanised Cash Bingo, in which players can play up to four boards instead of the usual two, as well as a variety of slot games and other gambling-based amusements. Players can either add credit to their bingo accounts to play these games, or spend bingo winnings. As of 2009, some larger Gala Bingo clubs have been able to offer 'Wizard Terminals',[11] which use exactly the same software as their clubs' touchpads, but have large upright screens which people play on, and are dedicated to one section of the club, often known as the 'Wizard Area'. In June 2012, Mecca Bingo introduced, for the first time, a similar section of electronic screens to its club in Catford,[12] as part of trial to see if they should be introduced into other clubs across the chain.

Two of the largest bingo club operators in the UK (Mecca Bingo Ltd. (part of The Rank Group plc) and Gala Bingo (Gala Coral Group Ltd.))[13] offer electronic bingo in most of their clubs. Electronic bingo has become more and more popular in the UK in recent years as a means of improving the chances of a player to win, and making more profit for the club.

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In most UK bingo clubs, including most Buzz Bingo clubs, mechanised cash bingo is played on a plastic board which has small windows which are used to cover up the numbers when they are called. In all Mecca Bingo clubs, bingo cards are built into the table tops and the numbers are covered up using small plastic chips.

The company involved will then use a computer (called a stage rig controller) to automatically take a "participation fee" (par-fee) which is set by the operator (usually between 40% and 60%). The rest of the credit is then put into the prize pool to be played for. The customer chooses when they want to play, and insert credit into a coin slot. Almost all games cost either 50p or 1 per board. Most clubs have two possible boards to play per coin slot, known as Board A and Board B. When credit is added to play a game, the A board is automatically lit. In order to bring the B board into play, players are required to insert extra credit and press their claim buttons in order to activate their B boards. Players can also play on their electronic bingo terminals by touching each board that they wish to bring into play. On electronic boards, players can choose from an A, B, C or D board.[14]

When a customer has a winning combination they press a claim button to stop the game. This is profitable for the operator as the games are fast, hence more frequent par-fees can be taken. The prize money is then brought to their table. If someone wins on their electronic board, then the winnings are automatically deposited into their 'bingo account'. In Northern Ireland bingo clubs, where the laws governing bingo games are different from in Great Britain, it is common when playing mechanised cash bingo for the caller to announce that a position or 'card' has won, and ending the game without the participation of the person playing. In other words, clubs in Northern Ireland do not require players to press a claim button. This enables the customer to play more positions in hope of a better chance of winning.

In order to encourage more people to play, and to offer better prize money, larger bingo operators offer games which are linked with other clubs, generally known as 'the Link'. Generally, between 10 and 20 clubs will link up and play a much larger game of mechanised cash bingo, with prize money in the hundreds. One person from one club will host the game, talking to all other clubs simultaneously over their microphone system. When someone in a club wins, the host from the winning club will say 'claim in...' followed by the name of the club. For example, if there was a winner in Gala Bingo in Wavertree Park, then the host of the Wavertree Park club would immediately turn on their microphone and say 'Claim in Wavertree Park'. As of September 2011, when Gala Bingo stopped operating their own version of a national bingo game (see National Bingo Game), they introduced a Mechanised Cash Bingo link known as 'Party Xtra XL'. This game is played amongst all Buzz Bingo clubs in Great Britain before each Main Session, with prize money typically ranging between 4,000 and 8,000 for weekday afternoon sessions and between 10,000 and 21,000 for evening and weekend afternoon sessions.[8] The highest amount ever won for this game was approximately 26,000, won by a single player on 17 October 2011. Most Gala clubs were exceptionally busy, because this was the date of Gala's 20th anniversary.


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