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Modern and Glam Bingo Variants A British Classic Gets a Revamp

by Carlton Whitfield. Published Fri 27 Sep 2019 15:00

Bingo has been one of UK’s favourite pastimes. The game has been played for quite a while, but its popularity soared after the Second World War and bingo halls started popping up like mushrooms. There wasn’t a town, or even a larger neighbourhood in Britain that didn’t feature a bingo hall.

The bingo hall expansion lasted up until the mid-2000s since when the number of bingo halls in the country started decreasing. In fact, the number peaked at about 2004 when there were over 600 bingo halls in Britain. According to current statistics, the number in 2019 was significantly lower, as low as 350 which is almost twice as less.

This might lead you to believe that the days of bingo are long gone and that it is a game of the past. Last year, Liverpool Echo posed a serious, and some might say controversial question – Does bingo still have a place in society? The short answer is, undoubtedly and clearly, - yes. The long answer led us to this exciting and informative piece that we hope you’re going to like.

History of bingo – bingo in the UK

Bingo has been around since the 16th century, but we are not interested in the early days of bingo. The game reached the UK towards the 18th century and it has been played since, but as we mentioned it reached a higher level of popularity only after WWII.
The main principle of the game of bingo is rather straightforward. Numbers are being drawn from a batch and players need to check how many of these numbers are shown on their ticket(s) and in which pattern. Then, depending on the pattern and how many numbers are on the ticket, prizes can be won.

The bingo variant that is dominantly played in the UK is called 90-ball bingo, although it is sometimes colloquially referred to as British bingo, or UK bingo. By comparison, US players are used to 75-ball bingo and this is the variant that they get to play the most.

90-ball bingo is a pretty straightforward and simple game. A ticket is consisted of 27 positions, across nine columns and three rows. Out of 27 positions on a ticket, 15 featured numbers, whereas 12 are empty. In each row there are five filled positions and four empty ones. The numbers are also divided by rows and each row features numbers from a particular range (1-10, 11-20, 21-30 and so on). Bingo tickets are sold in batches of six called strips and each strip contains all numbers from 1 to 90, 15 on each tickets.

The three winning combinations in a game of 90-ball bingo are single line, double line and full house. All prizes are pretty self-explanatory. If you get five (all) numbers across a line you win the first prize, the second involves get ten numbers across two lines, regardless if the lines are adjacent. Finally, the most valuable prize, or the full house is when all numbers on a ticket have been drawn.

Modernised bingo – new concepts and ideas

The Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 enabled the expansion of bingo, as it legalised bingo as a form of gambling. There were no dramatic changes in the gambling industry in the next decades. Traditional bingo halls were the norm and many bingo players would argue that if you entered the same bingo hall in the 1960s and then in the 1990s, you wouldn’t notice any significant differences.

Then, the 2000s and online bingo came about. Bingo players accepted the new type of bingo, despite the fact that there were some initial concerns, in terms of how the older generations will accept it and will they get used to it. Not only did older folks get used to playing bingo online, but a lot of younger people that previously weren’t drawn to bingo, started playing online.

This increased popularity of online bingo changed land-based bingo as well. The number of bingo halls may be lower compared to 15 years ago, but there are a lot of modern, original and unique venues that host bingo games. Bingo is usually combined with other popular activities that are popular with millennials.

For instance, we now have bingo and hip-hop nights, bingo and quiz nights and what not. The alternative bingo scene is thriving, especially in London, although the other larger cities are not far behind. Are we going to have alternative quirky bingo nights in every neighbourhood and village across the country? It is to early to tell, but one thing is certain – bingo’s not dead, it is here to stay.



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