The Difference Between UK and US Bingo Games

by Tim | Jul 08, 2022

The Difference Between UK and US Bingo Games

Before you could take advantage of free spins at a casino, bingo was enjoyed worldwide, with fans marking numbers off their cards for many decades. But this fun game hasn’t stayed the same on its way across the globe. As it has caught on, it has evolved to appeal to the needs or desires of players in a particular region. This is why bingo is different in the UK and the US, regardless of whether you play at an online casino or in person. Join us as we take a brief history of the game and then explore the differences between the UK and US versions of this much-loved game of chance.

A very brief history of bingo

While it may not have been modern bingo as we recognise it today, the ancestor of bingo, Il Gioco del Lotto d’Italia, is believed to have first appeared in Italy around the early 16th century. From there, it spread to other European countries, including France and the UK (where it was also known as “housey-housey”), before finally making its way to the US in the early 20th century. 

When the game arrived in the US, it was originally known as “beano”. Edwin Lowe, a toy manufacturer, saw the potential of the game when he spotted it at a carnival and decided to develop his own version. It’s believed that while playing Lowe’s version of the game with some of his friends, one of them accidentally called out “bingo” for a win. And the mistaken pronunciation of the word must have stuck because it’s the name of the game we all know and love today!

How 90-ball UK bingo works

The overall concept of the UK version of bingo is the same as many other versions of the game. A bingo caller chooses numbers at random and calls them out, with players marking off matching numbers on their cards. 

The UK’s version of the game is unique in regards to its bingo card and the corresponding numbers. British players of this game use 90 numbered balls and a card that has a 9×3 format. Each row of the card has five random numbers and, depending on the column a number is in, four empty squares. Numbers one to nine, 10 to 19, 20 to 29, and so on can be found in each respective column. Bingo cards, also known as bingo tickets, often come in strips of six in traditional bingo games.

As we’ve previously described, you mark off numbers as they are called out. But in 90-ball bingo, the game doesn’t end when a player manages to complete one line of numbers. The game continues, and if you complete a second row of numbers – or even all three lines for a “full house” – you’ll get even better prizes! There is also a special winning pattern if you manage to get numbers in the top and bottom corners on both the left and right sides of a bingo card.

Digital versions of the game replace the bingo caller with a random number generator (RNG), which selects numbers between one and 90 at random, and notifies the player as to which number has been chosen. Online bingo games can also be configured to automatically daub off numbers as they are drawn, making it easier for you to play!

How 75-ball US bingo works

A US-style 75-ball bingo card.

If you’re interested in playing the 75-ball version of bingo, the main difference is once again how many numbers are in play and the game’s corresponding bingo card. The American version of bingo plays out on a card in a 5×5 format, with a single space in the centre that is always marked off and offered as a “free” number. Unlike UK bingo, every square on the 75-ball bingo card contains a number (bar the central space). The first column contains numbers between one and 15; the second column, 16 and 30; the third column, 31 and 45; the fourth column, 46 and 60; and the final column, 61 and 75. Some cards have the letters B-I-N-G-O at the top, with one letter directly above each column. 

Again, players mark off numbers as they are chosen by the bingo caller, with the aim being the first player to mark off numbers on the card in a specific pattern. These patterns vary from game to game, but generally the most common is still a simple row of numbers, although in this version of the game, a winning row can count horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Some of the simpler but still unusual winning patterns include an X, L, or Z shape. In some cases, games will go for much more elaborate patterns, such as a cross, turtle, or aeroplane shape. 

As with 90-ball bingo, there are digital versions of 75-ball bingo where RNGs are used to select numbers between one and 75, with the game notifying the player which number was chosen. These games can also automatically daub off numbers as they are selected.

Which should you play?

Now that you know the difference between these two types of bingo games, you may be wondering: “Which one should I play?” On one hand, 90-ball bingo can be more straightforward since it doesn’t involve any unusual winning patterns, and it has more chances to win since each line you complete can offer you a prize. On the other, 75-ball bingo has more interesting winning patterns and fewer numbers. However, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee faster games, as the pace of the game can be affected by a number of factors. Ultimately, whichever version of bingo you prefer will likely be down to what you like – it’s your choice! We recommend you give both games a try and see which one you enjoy the most.  

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