All About UK Bingo

Meeting up with friends, visiting a local bingo hall, picking out your favorite dabber, and then waiting for your numbers to come up has been a pastime for many around the world. Although bingo is an international game played by millions, it’s fair to say that the British have fallen in love with the game more than most; there’s roughly just under 4 million players said to be within the UK alone.

Even though bingo is extremely popular, few of us know the history of bingo and how it came to be such an on trend game. What is more, how the game has evolved so that it’s a classic that can be enjoyed both inside a bingo hall setting, as well as inside the comforts of your own home. To give you a base to work with, we’ve compiled a brief history of UK bingo specifically, due to how many Britons can’t stop buying those bingo tickets and keeping their fingers crossed for a win.

The History of UK Bingo

When it comes to learning more about UK bingo and how it became the popular iGaming fix we know today, we have to (ironically) move away from Britain altogether and go back in time. The reason for this is due to the fact that bingo is said to have originated in Italy, back in the 16th century, with many historians referring to the Italian Lottery as the first instance of bingo. Even if this is found to be only partially correct, it still demonstrates that a steady progression of the game has been made over the years.

After its introduction in Italy, the game soon moved to France, where it witnessed one of the most notable changes of the time: cards and “calls” were added into the mix. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the recognisable 27 square ticket that we play with today came into existence. What this means, above all else, is that it took many years for bingo to be shaped into the hobby it has become in the modern 21st century.

What makes the evolution of bingo so extraordinary is that contrary to popular belief, it was the US that was gripped by bingo fever initially during the 18th century rather than the UK. True, the game had come across to Britain by that time also, but it was in America that its influence and power was so widely felt by the masses. This bingo craze, so to speak, has been referred to as spreading like wildfire, with players soon popping up in all local areas, such as churches, family gatherings, and so forth, in some ways mirroring the bingo hall vibes we can still experience in modern day games.

Putting bingo halls aside for one moment, we jump forward slightly yet again, to when UK bingo started to introduce the likes of cage tumblers, and all sorts of other fun gimmicks into traditional bingo gameplay. Bingo, that is the bingo we play today, was truly born at this very moment. Consequently, it was only a matter of time before technology advanced enough that the bingo experience was less hands on and more digital, thus giving way to online bingo in the early 00s.

Even in spite of bingo moving into our homes on a more regular basis, a lot of critics don’t regard iGaming as what sealed the coffin lid shut on bingo halls, but rather when the UK smoking ban was put into action in 2007. As odd as it may sound to those not from the UK, smoking went hand-in-hand with the culture that surrounded the UK version of the game, and so for smoking to then be banned, it took away a keen element of the experience. Fortunately for those that enjoy the social side of getting out when playing bingo, bingo halls are still going strong, even though it’s been 11 years since the smoking ban was implemented.

In spite of this continuance however, online bingo is where a large portion of the community meet and play, with no end of new sites being created every month or so; online gaming gives a flexibility that few physical locations can offer. What is more, you’re able to buy bingo cards more cheaply online, alongside not having to worry about mishearing the caller, and you don’t even need a bingo dauber in order to play. Everything is much simpler and streamlined, for your convenience. Partnered with this, you also have the added bonus that other variations of bingo can be played, such as 75, 30, and 80 ball bingo, thus ensuring that the experience stays mucher fresher for longer.

The Story of UK Bingo Halls

Throughout our quick speed history lesson, we’ve mentioned bingo halls time and again, eyt some of you may have never heard of them. Moreover, even if you have, you may have never visited one, due to playing online, or bingo being enjoyed in many other locations around the world. After all, bingo halls do seem to be a UK based phenomena.

Arguably the biggest appeal of these halls, besides having a dedicated space to play bingo, is so that you can socialise and meet friends. In fact, if you look at depictions of the game in popular culture, it’s a pastime that elderly people, mainly women, enjoy with their closest friends. Quite simply, it was a way of bringing the community together. However, that wasn’t the only reason bingo halls started appearing across the UK, for there was another reason, a more financially driven one…

Many bingo halls, at least in the beginning, where old cinemas and theatres, with these structures serving many other purposes save just that of bingo. The reason for their multifaceted nature was due to less cinema goers at the time (when bingo started becoming most popular in 1930s/40s), and so something more needed to be done in order to keep these businesses open. By presenting regular bingo matches, such old buildings could afford to stay open, earn money, and remain in the hearts of the local community.

Eventually however, bingo became so popular that halls specifically designed for such games were built, with the likes of Gala Bingo and Mecca Bingo being two large brands that spring to mind. Nonetheless, while they savoured many years of success, the smoking ban hit them hard, and the numbers dwindled down, with most players moving to online services in order to get their fix. We’re not saying that bingo halls aren’t a part of UK bingo anymore, simply that they’ve taken on a different level of importance, with their services tending to take more of a backseat to those that online sites can provide.

That being said, bingo halls have tried to move with the times in order to keep audiences happy, as well as introducing younger generations to the joys of bingo halls and those famous bingo calls. One such way this has been done is with electronic bingo cards instead of paper ones. Various fans of the game will openly admit that the tangible feel of a bingo ticket is hard to beat, however there’s no escaping that electronic touch screen tickets are a far easier means of scoring a line in bingo. As a result, UK bingo has managed to marry together online and in-house bingo in such a way that both remain favourites among gamers.

Online Bingo in the UK

So what of online bingo, how does that now fare several years down the line since the big iGaming boom? In truth, bingo is going as strongly as ever, if not more so in fact. Not only is the game still played by many middle age and older players, but online bingo has been able to reach younger players as well.

Furthermore, with bingo having made its (main) home online, users can enjoy both a quick game of bingo while also saving cash, not forgetting that they can activate bonuses as well. This could be seen as part of the reason why more bingo sites keep appearing, and why bingo networks continue to grow: due to the fact that players require more and more cost effective ways to play. Not that it’s all about cheap gameplay, as there’s also a social element still part and parcel of the game.

Bingo may have moved on from stuffy smoke filled halls, but that isn’t to say that friends don’t come together to enjoy a game or two; online bingo has fantastic chat room capabilities, therefore enabling players to converse and connect. What is more, with social media so heavily connected with iGaming, users can also share their accomplishments with their friends, and so the cycle of connectivity and socialising continues onwards.