Bingo is both a physical and online hobby that’s enjoyed all around the world. Over the years, it’s evolved into several exciting variants, which ensures that players always have a fresh, new way to play. Whether you’re making your first foray into bingo online or you’ve been playing for decades, we’re confident that our Bingo Games Guide will enlighten and inspire you.
We’ll be taking a look back to how the first bingo games came about before exploring how bingo’s evolved to keep up with emerging technology and the modern needs of players. Then, we’ll be examining the different types of games that are currently available at internet bingo sites, and concluding our guide by pointing you in the direction of the best, bargain-friendly, free bingo games!
Back in 1530, a state-run national lottery known as Lo Gioco del Lotto d’Italia was started. The lottery’s name translates as “The Clearance of the Lot of Italy”, and it involved players betting on the chances of specific numbers being drawn. It proved to be so popular that it still runs every week in Italy.
240 years later, the French began playing an adapted version of Lo Gioco del Lotto d’Italia called Le Lotto, which used unique paper cards featuring a 9x3 grid of random numbers running from 1 to 90. The first person to complete a horizontal row was declared the winner.
Bingo next began to be used in German and European schools in the 19th century as a learning tool for pupils of maths, history, and spelling. In World War I, English soldiers resurrected the French Le Lotto game, calling it “Housey-Housey”, and it quickly caught the attention of their American counterparts, who named it “Beano”.
Thanks to the WWI soldiers, bingo quickly spread back on home soil in both England and America, and after social gambling was legalised in Britain in 1960, more land-based clubs began to emerge.
Bingo’s has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 16th-century Italy. Today, many of the UK’s independent bingo halls have died out, partly due to the rise in popularity of online bingo and the smoking ban that was introduced in 2007. However, big-name brands like Gala and Mecca are still going strong, which is likely due to the fact that they co-run land-based clubs and online games websites which boast hundreds of thousands of members between them.
While Gala and Mecca have been riding the bingo wave the longest, other newly established operators were also quick to join the online bingo bandwagon. Currently, the most popular sites in the UK include 888 Ladies, Costa, Foxy, Gala, Jackpotjoy, Mecca, Tombola, and Wink, and with each month that passes, dozens of new sites enter the increasingly competitive online bingo market.
The World Wide Web is now 25 years old, and in the quarter of a century that’s passed since its invention, innovations in technology have brought us mobile phones and tablets that allow us to keep in touch with friends and family, run businesses, find love on dating sites, and play games away from home. Consequently, many UK operators now offer mobile bingo games that can be played via dedicated mobile apps or mobile-friendly HTML5 websites.
Thanks to the way in which bingo’s popularity spread following World War I, we now have multiple bingo games to enjoy. In America, 75-ball games are still the most popular while UK players tend to prefer 90-ball games but also have access to the 75-ball version.
In the UK, the two major game types are 90-ball and 75-ball. 90-ball uses cards made up of three rows and nine columns containing five numbers each (from 1 to 90). Prizes are typically awarded for one line, two lines, and a Full House (i.e. all three lines).
75-ball games play on cards formed of five columns of five numbers, and the numbers run from 1 to 75. There’s usually just one prize, which is awarded for a coverall win (i.e. all the numbers on the card are covered) or a pattern (i.e. the winning roomie must cover all of the numbers on a specific card pattern). N.B., some sites run UK 75-ball games rather than US-style ones, where five prizes are awarded per game (one for each of the five lines).
However, many operators have tweaked these two game types to give us more entertainment and chances to win. So, you’ll often come across Speed (super-fast games that last around one minute each), Roll On (multiple full house wins are allowed), Lucky Numbers (a Lucky Numbers jackpot is awarded to players who match their chosen lucky numbers with any of the balls called during the game), and Deal or No Deal games, where boxes are opened each time a ball with the corresponding number is called, and the Full House winner gets a ‘call’ from The Banker making them an offer for their box.
Other sites – particularly those on the Cozy Games network such as Mummies Bingo - boast thrilling 30-ball and 80-ball game variants. Tombola, in particular, is an operator which owes its popularity to the exclusive and unusual bingo games it offers such as Pulse, Roller-Coaster, Cinco, and Bingo Roulette.
Finally, let’s talk about free bingo games and, more importantly, where to find them! The majority of UK sites allow their members to play free bingo games where the prizes consist of bonuses, loyalty points, and sometimes cash. Some operators require you to be a funded member in order to access their free bingo games while others encourage both funded and non-funded roomies to take part. Our reviews will tell you which of our recommended sites offer free bingo games, and what the qualifying requirements are. Our website also lists some of the UK’s best no-deposit bonuses, which allow you to claim a no-strings-attached bonus when you register an account, and try as many free bingo games as you like until your bonus funds run out.
Check out our recommended bingo sites now for more information on where to find the best free bingo games!