Bingo Basics & FAQ

Bingo is a very popular gambling game in many parts of the world, and has been for many years. It is a game of pure and can be traced back as far as the 16th century, when a game called “Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia” was played in Italy. Players bought numbered cards and then marked off those numbers as they were randomly drawn and announced by a caller. The first person to mark off all of the numbers on their card was declared the winner. Although the term bingo was not used until much later, it was this concept that formed the basis for the game.

Similar games spread throughout Europe over the next couple of hundred years and continued to evolve over time. In the 18th century a game called Le Lotto was introduced in France that had most of the characteristics of modern bingo. Many different countries launched their own versions and the popularity of these lottery style games grew dramatically throughout the world. There are several accounts of how the term bingo came about, but it is generally accepted that the word was first used in Great Britain since the 1770s.

Rules of the Game

An American by the name of Hugh Ward was responsible for standardising the game in the 1920s, firstly at carnivals held in the Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania areas. He went on to copyright the game and then published a book of rules in 1933. At around the same time another American, toy seller Edwin Lowe, began marketing the game throughout the US with great success. Since that time the game has further evolved and there are several different variations of bingo today. The rules obviously vary somewhat between these variations, but the fundamental principle remains the same.

The basic rules are fairly standard in pretty much any form of bingo. A player has a card with numbers on and the aim is to mark off those numbers as they are drawn randomly. In most games there is more than one prize up for grabs, with the main prize going to the first player to mark of all their numbers and smaller prizes going to the first to mark off specific patterns.  As with the very earliest version of the game in Italy, these numbers are usually drawn by a caller who announces them to the players as they are drawn out. Bingo has traditionally been played as something of social game and has long been played by community organisations and at charitable events.

The game has also been played commercially too, all around the world in casinos and bingo halls. Again the rules vary from one venue to the next, and the laws and legislation differ depending on the region. As technology advanced electronic bingo replaced the physical drawing of numbers and games were often linked between different venues, largely to increase the size of the prizes on offer. The social aspect of the game very much remained though, with players typically enjoying a game of bingo in their local venue as well as taking the opportunity to mingle and chat with friends.

Bingo Goes Online

Perhaps the biggest change in the way people play bingo has been the introduction of online bingo. The first bingo sites started appearing towards the end of the 20th century, and have proved to be incredibly popular. Existing players have welcomed this new way to play the game, and online bingo has also attracted a massive amount of new players too. The game is basically played in the same way online; it’s just a whole lot easier and means you can play from the comfort of your own home. If you are interested in giving it a go, check out our FAQ below and then read our article on Why play bingo online?

Online Bingo FAQ

Most people have a few questions they want answering about online bingo that they want answering before they actually get started. We have compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions and provided answers to each one of them.

Where can I play online bingo?

There are hundreds of bingo sites on the web so it is easy to find somewhere to play. At we have listed some the best around, so we suggest you take a look at any of our recommended bingo sites and start with one of them.

How do I start playing bingo online?

Once you have chosen a site (you might like to read our bingo site reviews first) you need to get yourself signed up and open an account. This is usually a very easy process and won’t take you very long at all. You should also read our article on How to Play Bingo Online.

Is online bingo legal?

There is no straightforward answer to this, as it ultimately depends on where you live. Playing bingo in the United Kingdom is perfectly legal for example, but online gambling law is a bit of a grey area in some other parts of the world. To be absolutely sure, you should really check your local laws yourself.

How old do I have to be to play bingo online?

This will depend on the terms and conditions of the site you are playing at, and your local laws. 18 years old is the typical requirement, but you may have to be 21.

Is online bingo safe?

Online bingo is completely safe providing you use a reputable site. For more advice on this topic, please read our article on Online Bingo Safety.

Do I need a PC to play bingo online?

Some sites are only compatible with a PC, but there are some Mac compatible bingo sites too. There are also mobile bingo sites where you can play using a device such as a smartphone or tablet.

Will I have to download any software?

Some sites require you to download software while you can play the games directly from your web browser at others.

How do I deposit money?

Bingo sites usually offer a variety of different deposit methods, so you will rarely have a problem getting funds online. Credit and debit card deposits are accepted by most sites, as are popular e-wallets such as Neteller or Skrill. Other commonly accepted methods include bank transfer or money order.

How much money do I need to play?

There is usually a minimum deposit level, but this is typically very low at most sites so you really don’t need a huge amount of money. There are even some free bingo sites and no deposit bingo sites where you can play without having to spend anything.

Can I actually win money?

Absolutely. Bingo is a game of chance so you will need a little bit of luck on your side, but there are people winning money at bingo sites every single day.

Are bingo winnings taxable?

Tax laws vary depending on where you live, so we cannot give you a definite answer on this question. You should seek advice from a tax expert or check your local laws.

Why do bingo sites offer bonuses?

Bingo bonuses are given for two reasons mainly. Firstly, sign up bonuses encourage new customers to join a site. Secondly, other bonuses are offered to existing customers to reward them for their loyalty and keep them playing at a site.