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The Ultimate Bingo Guide

Gambling has been a pastime of humankind since we all learned how to count. Whether it was counting stones or counting cards, gambling has become ingrained into our culture as human beings and love it or hate it, the simple thrill of risk and reward keeps people coming back to casinos and online casinos. In the UK, one of the oldest gambling traditions is the game of bingo. A worldwide game, the origins of bingo are not in the United Kingdom, but there is a definite culture of playing bingo on British shores. Be it playing the new, flashy and all action online free bingo that has become a huge hit in recent years, or playing the traditional game in a bingo hall with friends, the game is still popular today. In this complete UK bingo guide, we will be tracking the history of this iconic game, looking at the rise and fall of the bingo hall, the presence of online bingo and even picking out some great sites to play bingo on the web. Oh, and how could we leave out for the traditional bingo calls from the announcer. Two fat ladies and all that. Find out more about bingo below or check out our related topics.

Quicklinks: Bingo Numbers to Expect | Top Bingo Sites UK | How to Play Online Bingo | The History of Bingo | How to win Bingo

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Origins of Bingo

The origins of bingo, which has led to today's top bingo sites, are difficult to trace. The game is played in many varieties across the world and in essence, is very similar to the very concept of a lottery. The earliest signs of the game we know today can be found in 17th century Italy, with their own version of the game being almost like the grandfather of the bingo we know and love today. Eventually, the game arrived in Great Britain and was an almost instant hit. The game was simple to play from the off, meaning that no matter how wealthy you are, how educated you are or, perhaps, how drunk you were, anyone could play. It was a social game, too, so people from the town were able to meet up and compete for the big wins in a jovial and friendly manner. This is a time long before TV and smartphones, of course, so this was ticking off human needs like entertainment and social networking all at once. Walking away from a game of bingo with some shillings for the week was a mere bonus.

As the game and modern society evolved, the game became monetised more efficiently and halls, built specifically for bingo, were being built up and down the country by the 20th century. Whereas the game was still enjoyed in village halls and community centres, this commercialised version of the game was a big hit A trip to the bingo became a good night out in the ilk of going to the cinema, going bowling or going to the pub, with leisure parks of Britains towns often having a bingo hall in amongst their entertainment.

How to play Free Bingo

Bingo is a beautiful game thanks to its pure simplicity. A game of numbers, the traditional game in the UK uses 90 numbered balls, of which are in play at the same time. Using either a random number generator software or the tradition raffle machine, the announcer will pick these numbered balls at random and read them out for everyone to hear.

Each player will have a ticket, marked with a selection of numbers to look out for. The aim of the game is to tick off all your numbers as they are read out and the first person to do so, gets the overwhelming privilege of being able to shout out those magic words; “BINGO!”

With their usually being a buy-in for the game, the winner will collect a sizeable prize depending on where they are playing and how many players they are playing against. In some bingo halls and on some bingo sites, the jackpot is fixed and there are some eyewateringly big amounts of money to be won at bingo.

In a typical game of bingo, there are five ways in which you can win. These include five in a row, blackout, X and four corners. These are relevant to the patterns that you make on your bingo ticket as you cross out the relevant numbers. A more recent addition to the game is the inclusion of a ‘special patter,’ dictated by the hosts as a means of keeping things interesting. This could be a more original shape on your ticket that offers the chance to win a bonus prize. Find more online bingo games here.

Traditional bingo calls

One of the most famous parts of the game of bingo is, of course, the things that the announcer says at the front of the room. He or she is crucial to how a game of bingo runs and is often central to the camaraderie that can occur in a bingo hall between players and hosts.

The phrases used for each of the numbers one to ninety can be tweaked and certainly have been to incorporate popular culture references down the years. However, the traditional calls are the most well know and have become a common part of the British dialect. Some are funny, some make very little sense and some are a genius way of describing the shape of a number. Here are all of the traditional number calls for a game of UK bingo, from Kelly’s Eye to the Top of the Shops.

  1.  Kelly’s Eye
  2. One Little Duck
  3. Cup of Tea
  4. Knock at the Door
  5. Man Alive
  6. Tom Mix
  7. Lucky Seven
  8. Garden Gate
  9. Doctor’s Orders
  10. Cameron’s Den
  11. Legs 11
  12. One Dozen
  13. Unlucky for Some
  14. Valentine’s Day
  15. Young and Keen
  16. Sweet 16
  17. Dancing Queen
  18. Coming of Age
  19. Goodbye Teens
  20. One Score
  21. Royal Salute
  22. Two Little Ducks
  23. Thee and Me
  24. Two Dozen
  25. Duck and Dive
  26. Pick and Mix
  27. Gateway to Heaven
  28. Over Weight
  29. Rise and Shine
  30. Dirty Gertie
  31. Get Up and Run
  32. Buckle My Shoe
  33. Dirty Knee
  34. Ask for More
  35. Jump and Jive
  36. Three Dozen
  37. More than 11
  38. Christmas Cake
  39. Steps
  40. Naughty 40
  41. Time for Fun
  42. Winnie the Pooh
  43. Down on Your Knees
  44. Droopy Drawers
  45. Halfway There
  46. Up to Tricks
  47. Four and Seven
  48. Four Dozen
  49. PC
  50. Half a Century
  51. Tweak of the Thumb
  52. Danny La Rue
  53. Stuck in the Tree
  54. Clean the Floor
  55. Snakes Alive
  56. Was She Worth It?
  57. Heinz Varieties
  58. Make Them Wait
  59. Brighton Line
  60. Five Dozen
  61. Bakers Bun
  62. Turn the Screw
  63. Tickle Me 63
  64. Red Raw
  65. Old Age Pension
  66. Clickety Click
  67. Made in Heaven
  68. Saving Grace
  69. Either Way Up
  70. Three Score and 10
  71. Bang on the Drum
  72. Six Dozen
  73. Queen B
  74. Candy Store
  75. Strive and Strive
  76. Trombones
  77. Sunset Strip
  78. Heaven’s Gate
  79. One More Time
  80. Eight and Blank
  81. Stop and Run
  82. Straight On Through
  83. Time for Tea
  84. Seven Dozen
  85. Staying Alive
  86. Between the Sticks
  87. Torquay in Devon
  88. Two Fat Ladies
  89. Nearly There
  90. Top of the Shop

The rise and fall of the bingo hall

Up until 2005, the numbers of bingo halls were constantly on the rise, but not long after free bingo games no deposit arose!

More and more people were getting into this commercially packaged version of the game that, despite being a little less based on the community feel of the bingo games of old, was a big hit for its an emphasis on entertainment. Charismatic announcers and great atmospheres in the likes of Gala Bingo halls made the bingo a great, Great British pastime. As mentioned, more and more bingo halls were built in the United Kingdom to meet the demand and by 2005, there were over 600 unique bingo halls in the country.

Yet, on the horizon was a major change for bingo, gambling and society as a whole, as online gambling and the smartphone began to evolve at an incredible rate. As we all shifted online, the way in which we do almost everything changed. From the way we watch films to the way we shop, society began to turn to the internet for everything and gambling, gaming and specifically, bingo, all moved online.

Today there are in the region of 400 active bingo halls but closures of them are sadly quite regular. Other than the rising presence of online gaming and entertainment, some other factors have been cited for the decline of the British bingo hall. The smoking ban is thought to have played a part, as before it came into action, it was common to smoke in bingo halls, as it was in pubs, too. This seems bizarre now, what with the success of the smoking ban, but at the time, it was considered very much part of the experience. Other factors include a rise in taxes, specifically within the gambling industry, as the government tightened its grip on the growing market for gambling both online and in brick and mortar settings like bingo halls and casinos.

However, you cannot look beyond the rise of the online gambler as the key reason as to why bingo halls are declining. The modern gamblers love to ease of gambling wherever they may be, as long as they have their smartphone and a decent connection to the internet. And, in truth, many of the brands who own bingo halls up and down the country, have shifted their service to online gambling, too, ensuring they survive in an industry which is rapidly evolving all the time.

Online bingo - Bingo Today

The online version of bingo has existed as a format for a while but really became prominent in the mid-2000s as our internet access got better and quicker and satellite TV adverts encourage us to sign up to the likes of Foxy Bingo.

The online format has improved year on year and become a really fun and fluid way to play a game of bingo. The jackpots can be huge too, with millionaires made every now and then thanks to the phenomenon that is online bingo. There are thousands of different online bingo games out there as well, many of which are hosted by the online casino and online bingo brands that operate from the UK even to this very day.

The themes of the games can vary and so can the number of balls even, with options for gamers including the length of the game. Never has a game of bingo been able to run so quickly, in all honesty. There is also a great choice of online bingo sites, which include the below.

Free Bingo Online

Top Bingo Providers

There are so many providers of online bingo but one of the newer kids of the block is Barbados, an online bingo site that uses the gorgeous Caribbean island as it’s theme and inspiration. And you could use Barbados as your inspiration, too, for there are big amounts of money to be won that might get you closer to a dream holiday of white sands, turquoise seas and sunshine. Although Barbados prides itself on online bingo first and foremost, you will find a lovely range of online gambling games on their easy to use websites. From online slot games to whatever else, there are over 500 online gambling titles to choose from, with work from providers like Yggdrasil and EyeCon amongst the always growing catalogue.

Umbingo - Free Bingo Site

Another great site is Umbingo, an online bingo offers provider that uses tropical imagery as it’s a central theme. Again, the choice of bingo titles is great here at this online casino. With the very, very popular Millions, Bingo series being available at Umbingo Signing up to sites like this is really easy and more often than not, you will be able to take advantage of something like a new customer bonus or welcome sign up offer. These will help you get to know the services of a site before you put any money out there, a great way to learn the game before looking to make a profit from it.

The future of UK Bingo Online

Despite the decline of the traditional bingo hall, there future of bingo in the UK is in good hands. The online gambling industry is thriving and remains inclusive to people from all walks of life, whether they want to play a classic like bingo or a modern gambling game like an online video slot machine. Find slot games to play here!

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