While most accounts place the origin of bingo in the United States, there is no doubt that the game has taken hold in the United Kingdom in a big way. The game has somehow managed to become one of the most popular forms of leisure activities in the country, particularly among women aged 20 to 25 years old. Indeed, the country has seen a huge increase in the number of internationally recognisable bingo providers in recent years, perhaps as a way to feed the demands of this ever-growing market of bingo players. Among the companies that have made significant inroads to the UK bingo market are Yahoo!, Virgin, AOL and MSN. Even some of the more established land based bingo organizations have taken notice of this burgeoning market (Gala Bingo being one of the most prominent) and have made their presence felt in the industry.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the UK has one of the biggest populations of online bingo players. A recent survey showed that the country was behind only the United States and Japan in the number of players playing the online versions of the game. While the United States is understandably responsible for the bulk of the total revenues generated from online bingo (up to 85% of it in fact) the United Kingdom was by far the fastest growing market for online bingo. Interestingly enough, in spite of this huge growth in the online bingo industry in the U.K., it is estimated that only 1% of all the bingo players in the country play the game online. It appears that land based bingo is still the overwhelming choice of the bingo playing public, many of whom haven't made the transition to online bingo yet.
In Europe, the other countries that follow the United Kingdom in the number of bingo players are Ireland, Spain and Sweden.
There are currently more than 650 bingo halls in the United Kingdom, all of which are operated on a commercial basis and serve as a source of revenue for the bingo halls' shareholders. Two companies currently command the lion's share of the bingo market in the United Kingdom: Mecca Bingo and Gala Bingo. Gala has more than 170 bingo halls and Mecca has a little over a hundred. The total number of bingo halls operated by these two companies comprise 43% of the bingo market in the country. Some of the other major bingo companies in the UK are Top Ten, which has 42 bingo clubs to its name, Carlton, which has 16, and Buckingham, which has 11 bingo clubs. In 2007 alone, it was estimated that the total spent by all the bingo players in the United Kingdom amounted to about £2.8 billion. The Mecca and Gala groups earned about 60% of that figure between them.
The predominant variation of the game played in the U.K. is what is known as 90-ball bingo. This variation is also quite popular in other countries in Europe, in Australia and in some parts of South America.