Traditionally played by women, bingo in the UK was at its peak in the 1960’s and was known as a housewives favourite pastime. It is commonly seen as a social game which is played for fun as the jackpots aren’t as large as other gambling games. A bingo hall could be found in every town and city and there are over 3 million regular bingo players in the UK which is 10% of all UK women and 5% of UK men. Bingo is often regarded as a pensioner’s game in the UK, but that’s far from truth as most players are women under the age of 50 and it has become the most popular leisure activity of women in the UK between the ages of 20 and 25. The bingo industry in the UK is estimated to be worth £1.3 billion a year.
The game of bingo originally came from the Italian game of “Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia”, and the game we know today, known as tombola, quickly became popular with the British Navy and eventually it made its way to UK shores.
In the UK the game of 90-ball bingo is played instead of the 75-ball version of the game which is commonly found in America. In 90- ball bingo, players purchase a nine by three strip with 27 squares. Each of the rows has four blank square and three numbered squares the number are between 1 and 90. The same style of ticket is used by UK online bingo websites, where an electronic number generator is used to call the numbers, whereas, in traditional bingo halls a spinning cage and numbered balls are used and the selected ball number is called out by a caller.
In the traditional game of bingo 6 tickets are purchased at once with all of the number 1-90 present across the tickets, but online bingo players can purchase more than 6 tickets to have a better chance of winning
Unlike 75-ball bingo there are no different patterns and only 3 combinations can be used to win 90-ball bingo, a horizontal line over 5 numbers is usually the most common and quickest win, it longer games two lines might be required to win and in a full house games all numbers must be matched to win the game.
UK bingo is famous for the nicknames or bingo lingo used when calling the numbers; well-known nicknames include number 5-man alive, number 8-garden gate, all the fours-44 and 57-Heinz beans. In recent times some nicknames such as number 88-two fat ladies have stirred up controversy and there have been many re-designs of the nicknames to modernise them.