Bingo is a game which involves players marking off numbers on tickets that became popular across the United Kingdom following the Betting and Gaming Act 1960 on 1 January 1961. Purpose-built bingo halls remain active to this day, and in fact, there were halls opened every single year between 1960-2005. At one point, there were around 600 halls in the UK. Though today there are less than 400.
The rules of the game are straightforward. To start, each player needs to buy at least one ticket to enter the game. These tickets are made up of a grid of numbers – usually 9×3 in the UK.
When the game gets going, numbered balls are drawn at random and called out. If a numbered ball corresponds to a number on your ticket this number is crossed off. The objective is to mark off full columns, rows, diagonals or every single number on your ticket, though this depends on the type of bingo game you are playing.
The most common types of bingo games are 75-ball, 80-ball and 90-ball. In the 75-ball variant there are 75 numbered balls that can be called. Each ticket is a 5×5 grid with each square having a number except for the centre. This is called the free square, and it can be used to complete rows, columns or diagonal lines with four marked numbers. Usually there are five prizes:
1. The first player to complete a line in any direction
2-4. The next 3 players to complete horizontal lines only
5. The first player to mark off every number on their ticket, known as a ‘full house’
90-ball bingo, as you probably guessed, is played with 90 balls. Tickets are made up of a 9×3 grid – each with 15 numbers on. The rest of the squares on the ticket are blank. The prizes are awarded for:
1. The first player to complete one horizontal line
2. The first player to complete two horizontal lines
3. The first player to complete a full house.
It is as simple as that! For newbies who may feel intimidated heading down to a land-based bingo hall for the first time, particularly on their own, may seek to play the game online to get a hang of the rules and a feel for the game first.
In fact, online bingo can be played for free over at reputable sites such as Wink Bingo. And whenever you feel ready to play real cash games, sign up and take advantage of the welcome bonus, of up to £100. You will also find a variety of versions of the game, just like the three we listed above. Whereas attending a physical hall you will most likely only find the one variant, which over here is usually 90-ball.
Another advantage of playing bingo online is that many sites often offer daily and weekly promotions, as well as loyalty bonuses. And unlike the land-based version, you can play online at whatever time of day you like – they are open 24/7!
Should you prefer to play bingo in one of the dedicated halls around the country, Wales actually has one of the oldest in the United Kingdom. In the town of Tonypandy, located in the county borough of Rhondda, you will find one that dates back over 100 years – all the way to 1909.
Judges Bingo have been entertaining crowds for more than a century and have earned the nickname ‘Las Vegas of the Valleys’ among the locals. And whilst online bingo continues to grow rapidly around the world, land-based bingo halls in Wales seem to be as popular as ever.
Many people use them as an opportunity for their weekly social with friends or family. The game is a family tradition for many; particularly the older generation who grew up with it as a top form of entertainment.
It wasn’t uncommon just a couple of decades ago for youngsters to go with their parents and/or grandparents a couple of times a month or so, as well as meeting up with other relatives at the venue.
However, it is not just the old that you will find in the Welsh bingo halls these days. If you go down today you can expect to find a young demographic too – singles and couples alike in their 20s and 30s who regularly attend in person. Bingo is making its comeback.
You can expect bingo to be around for many more decades to come. The game has only grown in popularity with the boom in online casinos. Advancements in technology have now made the game available wherever you are, as long as you have a mobile device and a WiFi connection.
In fact, the bingo hall experience can be recreated from within your own homes. Online bingo sites allow for players to create private rooms in which you can play with only your family and friends if you so wish to choose. Apps such as Zoom and Skype also allow for face-to-face conversations during your game.
The smoothness of online gaming, entertaining graphics and the ease-of-play on both websites and mobile apps have helped with the resurgence of the game among the younger generation.
Prior to the past 15 or so years, the game had a reputation of being played among senior members of the public. It would be common to find bingo halls packed with the over 60s and few youngsters in the room. Not to mention how readily the game is, with the majority of casinos offering the game.
Head down to just about any of the bingo halls in the country and you will see that’s no longer the case in Wales. Bingo refuses to lose its sense of community over here. Today, bingo isn’t an uncool suggestion for a night out. You can have a few drinks at the venue of your choice, whilst playing an entertaining game whilst socialising. There will often be an interval halfway through the game for you to top up and not miss any of the action.