The Complete Guide to Online Bingo
Online bingo is played in a handful of different forms, and it basically works out as a lottery type of game that you can customize with a lot of choices and a lot of options. There’s not really any skill-based element to the game other than which games you choose and taking advantage of promotions, but it’s an action-packed style of game that has fans from all over the world.
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Introduction to Online Bingo
The basic idea behind playing bingo online is that you have cards with different numbers on them, and a series of numbers are announced that you can mark off of your cards. Whenever you mark off certain patterns or combinations of numbers, then you can win a prize.
This basic style of gameplay goes back several centuries, but the specific forms that the game has taken has changed quite a bit over time.
If you’re the type of player who would like to be able to just sit back and enjoy your game as it unfolds without having to worry about learning a bunch of complicated strategies or having a lot of flash with no substance like what you see with some genres and sub-genres like online slots, then playing Internet bingo is definitely an option that you should look into.
A Brief History of Bingo
You can go as far back as the early 1500s to see games that influenced modern-day online bingo games. There was an Italian lottery back then called “Lo Guioco del Lotto D’Italia,” and it’s even played now every weekend in different parts of the country. You may not recognize it as bingo per se, but it still had a heavy influence.
French, German and English people played various short-term, lottery-style games with a particularly strong increase of popularity on into the 1800s. This led to a version of the game called Beano being played in fairs and carnivals in the United States in the early1900s.
This was changed from “beano” to “bingo” by a man from New York named Edwin S. Lowe whose toy company also created the game Yahtzee that’s very popular all over the globe as well. He worked with mathematicians to figure out sets of cards for what’s now known as 75-ball bingo, one of the two most popular forms of bingo in the world and the form that’s almost exclusively played in North America.
Other forms of the game developed independently in different areas before hitting the Internet in the late 1990s. They were reconciled in certain ways to give them uniformity in terms of how they were presented even though the games, gameplay and ways to win are completely different.
Different Types of Online Bingo
Tons of different styles of bingo are played with different variations all over the world, but there are really only four of them that have gotten a lot of traction online. Of those four, two of them get the most attention by far, but the basic gameplay is similar for all of them with the exception of how fast the play goes.
Whenever you play a game of online bingo, no matter where you’re playing, you’re essentially paying for a certain amount of numbers to be called. For example, in a 75-ball game, you might pay for a card that has 55 calls. You’ll usually have different options for how many calls you want, so again, you could pick from something like 35, 45 or 55 calls on a 75-ball game just as an example.
Your winnings are determined by what kind of pattern you get, and they’re paid as a multiple of the price of your card. The more difficult the pattern is to get, the higher the payout. This is a pretty easy idea to understand in the general sense, but because the payout structures, numbers of calls and bonus opportunities can vary so much from provider to provider, we can’t give you an exact list of what all of the payouts are.
Instead, we’re going to look over each of the four most common types of bingo played online and show you what to expect from each in the more general sense so that you can see how they’re played and pick up and what you need to know when you encounter each of them in front of you at any given time.
75-ball Bingo Online
The most popular bingo game in North America is called 75-ball bingo. This basically works by having a five-by-five grid of numbers where the center space is usually always given to the player as a “free space.” This is sometimes called American Bingo as well, but in terms of total numbers of plays, it’s roughly tied for being the most popular form of the game running in the world, at least on the Internet.
Each column falls under the letters B-I-N-G-O here, and 15 numbers each are allocated to each of those five columns. This means you have five random numbers chosen from 1-15 in the first column, five randomly chosen from 16-30 in the second and so on. Numbers are called out at random from 1 to 75, and you cover the spaces that you get to try to make various patterns ranging from getting a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line all the way up to covering the entire card with plenty of other patterns in between.
A key feature of 75-ball bingo that allows a lot of variation in play is the different patterns that the casinos and bingo rooms can come up with and the different prize structures that are awarded based on those patterns.
90-ball Bingo Online
Roughly tied with 75-ball bingo is 90-ball bingo. Instead of being played on a square grid, this game is played on a rectangular grid that has nine columns and three rows. Each column can contain numbers randomly chosen in batches of ten, so the first column can have 1-10, the second can have 2-20 and so on.
However, the entire 3×9 grid isn’t wide open. Instead, there are five randomly chosen spots on each row that are used, and the other four are crossed out. Wins are based on the number of rows that you get full, and getting a row full consists of having all five numbers called that are found on a given row.
Wins of one, two or three rows can be had in this game. While it’s a very popular type of game, it doesn’t have nearly the flexibility of the 75-ball games, but it does tend to play a lot faster with games not lasting as long, and that probably has something to do with how these completely different games have similar levels of popularity.
80-ball Bingo Online
Outside of 75-ball and 90-ball games, 80-ball online bingo is played primarily at a handful of software providers and is one of the most popular alternative bingo games available.
The basic idea here is actually really simple: Each card for online 80-ball bingo is a four-by-four grid with four randomly chosen numbers on each column in a random order.
As you might expect, the available numbers for each column are broken up in groups of equal size. In this case, the numbers 1-20 are allocated to the first column, the numbers 21-40 are allocated to the second and so on.
80-ball bingo has wins based on the types of coverage that you can get, and again, this ranges from everything from individual lines to covering the entire card. There is no free space, but otherwise, this is a lot like 75-ball bingo in terms of the actual practical gameplay, and it can be seen as a “speed version” of that game to some players.
30-ball Bingo Online
Players will sometimes see 30-ball bingo called speed bingo because it’s such a simple game that plays very quickly. It’s not nearly as popular as the 75-ball and 90-ball variations, but it’s a fun alternative when you want to mix things up.
The format of this game is like a scaled-down version of 80-ball. There are three rows and three columns where 1-10 can show up in the first column, 11-20 can show up in the second, and the third has three randomly chosen numbers from 21 to 30.
With only 30 total numbers, the game is very fast, and you’ll usually only have one way to win in this bingo game, which is to cover your entire 3×3 card. There are no prizes given for making individual lines or other types of patterns, and there are no free spaces available.
Game Selection and Software Options
The strategies for playing bingo online are all about picking out the games and cards and bet sizes that you want to play while taking advantage of promotions and bonuses as much as you can. There actually isn’t much in the way of strategy in terms of making sure that you mark the called numbers because almost all online bingo software will automatically do this for you after a certain amount of time goes by past the call.
In short, you can’t miss any numbers in online bingo in most cases because the software won’t let you.
With that in mind, we’re going to look through some of the games available for several software providers to give you an idea of what you can expect. The payout rates aren’t available for all of these games, and some of them can’t be calculated by hand because of the lack of needed information, so we’ll try to inform you the best that we can with the information and data that is available.
Microgaming Online Bingo
Microgaming has a few styles of bingo available, but numbers aren’t available for most of them. The 90-ball games get the most attention here, and one of them in particular is called “Ballistic Bingo” that actually does have enough information given to tell you what the payout rate is: 94.7 percent.
Unfortunately, there’s not really any strategic choices required to play this game, and the pay table is atypical in the sense that it’s based on how many balls it takes to fill the cards instead of having a set pattern that you’re trying to get, so there’s not really a lot of action to be excited about.
Microgaming does a lot of things well, but their bingo selection is sub-par.
Playtech Online Bingo
Playtech has a single bingo game available, and it actually works much like the Ballistic Bingo game noted above. The payout rate is better at about 97.0 percent, which puts it in the same league as European roulette, a smart player on Craps or even a mediocre blackjack player.
The only problem with this game is that it’s terribly boring compared to other bingo games. It plays more like a keno or scratch card title in that the numbers shoot off rapidly and are automatically marked on your card. The speed of this game is solid, but it’s not really the kind of thing that most players are looking for.
Realtime Gaming Online Bingo
A big departure from the Playtech and Microgaming versions of bingo is the pair of bingo games available from Realtime Gaming. They are called Bonus Bingo and Roaring Twenties Bingo, and they’re both 75-ball games that allow you to play multiple cards at the same time.
You’re given a set of balls with the option to purchase extra balls at a premium for those close calls, and you’ll find that the more complicated the patterns you make, the better the winnings you earn.
There are a number of extra features in each of these games that make them stand out like bonus payouts, multiplier wins, progressive jackpots and other goodies. However, with the frequency of these promotions and the jackpots being awarded randomly, there’s no way to calculate the payout rate of the games themselves, so we can’t recommend for or against them in terms of the payout rates.
Rival Gaming Online Bingo
Rival Gaming has a very extensive line of bingo games online with 30-ball, 75-ball, 80-ball and 90-ball games. What’s more is that all of their titles have a uniform presentation, and it’s pretty easy to figure out the payout rates for all of the available options for their games, so we can list them out here to make it really easy to pick the best deals.
- 30-ball Bingo – You can play for 20, 22 or 24 balls for payout rates of 93.92%, 93.87% or 91.39%, respectively.
- 75-ball Bingo – Also called American Bingo at sites that use this software, you can pick to play for 35, 45 or 55 balls. The best option is to play for 55 balls for a payout rate of 94.87%.
- 80-ball Bingo – You can also play this game for 35, 45 or 55 balls. The best option for this game is 45 balls with a 95.06% payout rate, but the 35-ball option is notable for its 94.49% payout rate, which is not much lower, and the chance for a 10,000x top prize for filling the entire 4×4 grid.
- 90-ball Bingo – Also called European Bingo at casinos that use this software, you can play for 45, 55 or 65 balls. The best pick is the 55-ball option with a big 96.62% payout rate, which is the best for any of their bingo options.
In short, Rival Gaming-powered sites have some of the best bingo options available in terms of payout rates, betting options and the number of games available.
Fans of online bingo have a lot of different options from a lot of different software providers. From the major names in casino software development, Rival Gaming is the best option overall, but Realtime Gaming gets an honorable mention for their inventive games with everything from progressive jackpots to special bonus features.
Regardless of how you choose to play in terms of the specific type of bingo you prefer, bingoheads from across the world are able to come together and enjoy their favorites while shooting for filling their cards and getting the best payouts available when playing online.