Beginners Guide - How To Play Online Bingo

The overcrowded, rowdy bingo halls are somewhat ancient relics and are seldom seen these days. Whether it’s bingo on your mobile phone or on a desktop computer, the popularity of online bingo is showing no sign of waning.

Does the convenience of online bingo appeal to you but you’re not sure where to begin? Then reading this beginners guide to online bingo will be a good place for you to start.

This comprehensive guide covers everything from how to choose the best bingo sites, to how to deposit into your first bingo account.

Let’s start by diving into a brief history of bingo, and how it became one of the fastest-growing areas of the UK gambling sector.

Bingo Through the Ages

Bingo Through the Ages

There has been much debate over the years about the true origin of the game of bingo. Probably the most commonly believed theory is that the game started as an Italian lottery named ‘Lo Giuoco del Lotto D'Italia’ around 1530.

This Italian lottery looked a lot like the bingo we know today. The game was played using 90 numbers, and players would be given numbered cards. The winning numbers were drawn by the dealer from a big sack.

From Italy, it is believed to have been adopted as ‘le lotto’ by French aristocrats in the late 1770s. It is believed that a young man invented an alternative version of the Italian game soon after.

This Frenchman also used 90 random numbers, but instead had printed numbers on cards and arranged them as 9 vertical rows and 3 horizontal. As the dealer pulled the numbers from the sack, the first player to successfully match a horizontal row won the game and the ‘pot’.

Although lotteries had been played in England for many years previous, by the turn of the 18th-century bingo had firmly found its way into Britain and the hearts of the masses. This included huge popularity amongst the British Army and Royal Navy.

The story goes that the name ‘bingo’ itself came about as somewhat of an accident at an American Carnival. With the game being called ‘beano’ (due to the beans used to cover numbers during play), someone accidentally called ‘bingo’ and the name stuck. Having said that, some historians believe the name bingo already existed in England but was a slightly different game.

Bingo Halls

Fast forward nearly 440 years and bingo had become so popular that the Gambling Act 1968 was introduced. This meant that for the first time in hundreds of years bingo was regulated for players. As a result of this new regulation, bingo halls started appearing all over the country. This was much to the delight of bingo fans, who came in their droves to join in on the fun.

Bingo started out as very much a social event. British bingo players from all over the country would meet with family and friends at the local hall to play 90 ball bingo. Food and drinks were often delivered directly to players’ tables and it was considered very much a typical night out at the time.

In large due to the birth of the internet and the world wide web in the 1990s - as of 2020 times have moved on in a big way. And whilst there are bingo halls still operating, the amount in existence is rapidly declining.

In recent decades, fewer and fewer players attend what bingo halls there are left. Instead, most people prefer the convenience and comfort of playing bingo from home (or on the move). And with so many bonuses and impressive jackpots on offer, it’s really no wonder that online bingo is more popular than ever.

Online Bingo Basics

There is a vast amount of bingo variations available to play online. With the traditional 90-ball version remaining one of the most commonly played.

Whilst on the subject of online bingo variants, we have listed the most common terms used in bingo today.

90-Ball Bingo

As we at noted earlier, 90-ball bingo is still the most popular version of the game. You will see 90 balls in total, each with a number between 1 and 90. All 90 balls are then put in a bingo machine and will be drawn one by one at random.

Just like in a bingo hall, but all virtual - the aim is to match the numbers from your card to the numbers randomly drawn.

Generally speaking, the three ways in which you are able to win 90-ball bingo are ‘full house’, one-line and two-line bingo.

  • One Line: All 5 numbers are marked in a column.
  • Two Line: All 5 numbers are marked across 2 columns.
  • Full House: All 15 numbers are marked on your bingo card.

Bingo Card

An essential element when you’re playing bingo is going to be your ‘bingo card’.

This will be a card with 9 rows and 3 columns. In each column you will see 4 empty squares and 5 numbers. Your bingo card will have specific numbers on each row. As a quick example:

  • Row 1: Numbers 1 to 9
  • Row 2: 10 to 19
  • Row 3: 20 to 29

You get the idea, each of the 9 rows will have a particular group of numbers from the 90.

Bingo Pots

Ultimately, the money from each bingo ticket sold goes into a bingo pot. So, if 20 players each buy a £1 bingo ticket, the pot for that particular game stands at £20.

However, much like in the old land-based casino space - business is business. As such, the online bingo operator will take a small percentage to cover the costs of the running of the site.

Truly Random Cards

Each bingo card given to players contains random numbers between 1 and 90. You will never see the same number more than once on the same card.

As we said above, each card has 15 numbers, and each number will only ever be shown once.

Drawing the Balls

After being assigned your bingo cards, the game officially begins when the first number is drawn at random.

If the number drawn matches a number on any of your bingo cards, you would normally need to cross it off on your card. When playing online bingo, however - this is usually done for you automatically when they match.

Matching a Line

We explained briefly above that one of the ways in which you can win at bingo is to match a line. By matching up the numbers drawn with a full row of numbers on your bingo card, you win and can enthusiastically shout ‘LINE’!

In a land-based casino, you would be crossing these off with a bingo dabber (or bingo marker). In the case of playing bingo online, your win will be recognised automatically by the bingo platform. At this point, you win what’s referred to as the ‘line pot’. This is a small chunk of the main pot.

Full House

When someone wins the ‘line pot’ mentioned above, the game will continue. The main target now is going to be the big pot.

The pot we are referring to - or the main prize - is the ‘house’. In order to win this, you must first match all of the numbers on your bingo card with those numbers drawn. Once your card is filled and all 15 numbers are matched, then you win whatever is left in the prize pot.


When the big bingo prize pot has been won, the prize funds are going to be allocated to the house winner and the line winners.

After this course of action has been completed, then the game is over, and another game can begin!

How to Play Online Bingo: Step by Step

Irrespective of whether you are new to the game or have played before - online bingo is remarkably simple.

With that being said, there are a few things which you should pay attention and consideration to before committing. We’ve compiled a 6 step list to help you get started with playing online bingo safely.

Step One: Select a Bingo Website

It goes without saying that before you can play online bingo, you need to choose a bingo site you want to join. There are hundreds of platforms available and it’s important to not just join the first one you come across.

The most important things to look out for when making your decision are as follows:

Licence and Regulation

This one is really important. In the UK, any form of online gambling is strictly regulated. This brings great peace of mind for you as a player knowing that you are using a valid and regulated company.

The Gambling Commission’s objective is to make sure online gambling companies are above board and fair for all players. So, each and every single bingo website must apply for a licence from the Gambling Commission.

The process of obtaining this licence can take some time and is no walk in the park, as each site must prove that they meet the Commission’s expectations. Bingo platforms have to feature airtight security and customer fund protection, not to mention an adequate amount of company funds so that players can withdraw what is owed.

The long and short of it is - always make sure that any bingo site you join has a genuine gaming licence from the appropriate bodies. This is going to ensure your safety, and save you from getting stung by a site which might not be above board.

Payment Method Options

The vast majority of bingo sites will offer a good variety of payment methods. The thing you need to think about is your preferred payment type. This is because if you are quite specific about how you want to deposit and withdraw, you will need to check that your online bingo site accepts the payment method in question.

Payment options usually include debit cards, e-wallets and more traditional methods such as a bank transfer. If you take a look at the operator’s website, you will see accepted payment types under the withdrawal and deposit section.

It’s also a really good idea to make yourself aware of any fees you might be subjected to when depositing or withdrawing your bingo funds. This is because it sometimes depends on the payment method.

Bingo Gaming Suites

Now you have ensured that your bingo site is fully regulated, and have decided on which payment method to use - you can have a good look around and discover for yourself how the bingo platform’s gaming suite works.

Each bingo site will differ, but there will usually be a variety of bingo rooms and game types. Nearly all platforms offer players 90-ball bingo. Many also offer 75-ball bingo as well as a host of other bingo variations like Slingo (a cross between slots and bingo), as well as themed bingo games.

It might be a good idea for you to also have a look at what (if any) other games the site offers on the side. For example, a platform might have a variety of bingo games but also host roulette, slots and blackjack. If there comes a time when you want to play other games as well, then it makes sense to stick to one site.

Online Bingo Networks and Traffic

Many new players neglect to check the traffic levels of bingo sites. The reason it’s important to assess this information is that if there aren’t many players on the site, the prizes will be smaller. On the other hand, if a bingo platform has a lot of traffic then the prize pots will be a lot bigger.

There is another thing to consider when choosing a place to play online bingo, and that is - does it connect its games with other platforms?

Known as ‘Bingo Networks’, this is when several bingo sites all linked to one another.

Having many platforms linked together not only means that you are playing with a wider range of bingo players, but also means the jackpots are usually huge. This is due to the sheer number of people playing across the different sites, so whilst you have more competition, your gains could be quite spectacular.

Customer Support

Always investigate what channels of support are offered by each online bingo site you are considering. The reason for this is that whilst most platforms these days will offer players 24/7 live chat, you might go through the sign-up process only to find that your contact with them is limited at your time of need.

Ideally, you should be looking for bingo sites with email, phone and live chat support. And, it’s quite important that in an industry which never sleeps, that you are able to contact customer support at any time of the day.

Bonuses and Welcome Packs

No two online bingo operators are the same, and neither are the bonuses and promotions on offer. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for those online bingo platforms that offer the most advantageous welcome packages and bonuses.

These packages will usually be illustrated as free bingo cards/tickets, free spins on slots, combinations and matched deposit bonuses. Before getting swept away with attractive sounding welcome packages, always make sure they are available to you, and always check the minimum deposit required to receive such offers before signing up.

Mobile Bingo

A lot of bingo platforms enable mobile gaming. Some have their own app - usually available on both iOS and Android devices, and these are usually free. You will find that some bingo sites have an enhanced website for web browsers on mobile phones.

You should find that the site is simple to find your way around. Essentially, the playing experience on your mobile should be just as exciting as the desktop version of the same bingo game.

Step Two: Open Your Bingo Account

Now you’ve got to this point and decided on your online bingo website, you then need to get an account opened so that you can start to play.

The account opening procedure is fairly typical, and usually only takes a few minutes to complete. You will often need to enter the following information:

  • Full name and residential address
  • Full date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Contact details: Telephone number and email address are usually sufficient.

As well as the details listed above, you will need to create a unique username and password. It’s advisable to make sure your password is memorable to yourself, but not obvious to anyone else.

Step Three: Fund Your Account

At this point, you need to deposit some funds into your online bingo account so that you can begin to play with real cash.  Once you have chosen a payment method, funding your account is actually very easy.

As we touched on earlier, there are usually lots of different payment methods available on bingo platforms. Some of the most commonly seen are:

  • Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard, Maestro
  • Prepaid debit
  • Wire transfers (bank transfers)
  • Skrill, PayPal, WebMoney, Neteller (e-wallets)
  • Paysafecard
  • Pay by Phone Bill (using credit)
  • Entropay
  • Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin etc

For the most part, your funds will go into your account immediately so that you can begin to play. In the case of a bank transfer, the deposit can take days to go into your new online bingo account.

Step Four: Decide on a Bingo Room

Your account should now be funded so you are ready to start your first online bingo game. As we at noted earlier, each bingo platform will probably have a variety of bingo rooms (virtual bingo halls) to choose from. However, you should also ask yourself:

  • What type of bingo game do I want to play? (i.e 90-ball etc)
  • How much does one bingo ticket cost?
  • How many people are playing in the same room?
  • What is the average prize pot available?
  • Is the room available to me or exclusively for VIP members?
  • Is the platform part of a bigger bingo network?

Let’s assume you have selected an online bingo room which you want to join. Once you have clicked on that room, you will be asked what number of tickets you want to purchase. Now, when you start to play the game, you will see these virtual tickets you just bought, with a bingo machine to the side.

As we have said, each time a drawn number is matched to your ticket, then your card will be marked automatically. The game is quite passive in this respect. However, if you want to be sociable you can always join a bingo chat room and talk to your fellow players whilst you wait for your winning number!

Step Five: Withdraw Winnings

When lady luck strokes, you’re going to want access to your winnings. It doesn’t matter whether it is a full house or just a line, all winnings will be added to your bingo account funds.

Should you need to withdraw these winnings, you can just click on banking button within your account. You will then see a ‘request withdrawal’ option. When using a debit card, once a request for withdrawal has been processed you can expect to see it in your account within a few working days.

When it comes to an e-wallet you can usually expect to see your money on the same day. Many online bingo players use e-wallets as their primary payment method for this reason. Always check out the minimal withdrawal amount as most sites have one.

Step Six: Identity Verification

This part is really simple. As covered earlier, the UK gambling industry is heavily regulated. As part of this legislative framework, sites are required to be in line with the Money Laundering Regulations 2017. So, each and every player needs to be identified before they are able to make a withdrawal.

What you will be required to do now is take a clear copy of your passport or driving licence, as well as a document or letter which has your name and residential address on it. The letter usually needs to be something like a bank statement, utility bill, tax statement, or any anything official. Any document used as proof of your address needs to be from within the last 3 months.

Bingo Site Bonus Types

The great news for online bingo players is that there is such a diverse amount of bingo sites to choose from. This subsequently creates competition. This competition means that the bonuses and welcomes packages on offer are getting bigger and better in order to tempt you over to them.

Below we have listed some of the types of bonuses available, with a brief explanation of each.

Matched Deposit

This has to be the most commonly seen type of bonus available in the online bingo arena. A matched deposit bonus is not only sought after in online bingo but also the sports betting area of online gambling.

Essentially, this kind of bonus matches your deposit, up to a specific limit. Let us say that the bingo platform in question is offering all newbies a 100% matched deposit of up to £100.

In this instance, the casino is going to give you £100 when you deposit £100, meaning you start off with £200 instead. Some bingos sites offer a deposit bonus of up to 300%.

No Deposit

This is one to look out for but seldom seen. A no deposit bonus enables you to be able to play a certain amount of bingo games without making a deposit.

It’s worth noting that this bonus will usually be a lot lower than a matched deposit bonus. Some sites allow you to choose between the two of them.

Free Spins

Some online bingo operators also offer slots alongside their bingo games. When this is the case, you will usually be offered bonuses in the way of free spins. This is just another bonus which allows for you to win without paying a thing from your bingo account.

Free Bingo Tickets

There are a number of bingo platforms out there which offer new customers packages with free tickets included. And you guessed it, this means you are given free bingo cards as a way of saying thanks for joining. In some cases, you might be given as much as 10 or 20 free tickets.

Any kind of bonus is greatly appreciated, as not much in life is free. But, it is important to remember what a particular site expects from you as per its terms and conditions. This could be anything from wagering requirements, to fees and minimum deposits.

An example of this would be if your bonus has a wagering requirement of x2 and you claim a £50 bonus. In that situation, you are going to have to play £100 on bingo before you are able to get your hands on your winnings.

Many online bingo platforms don’t have any wagering requirements in place at all, so keep an eye out for those bonuses in particular.

To Conclude

Bingo has been a much-loved game for hundreds of years, and the birth of the internet certainly opened up a whole new world of possibility for one of the nation's favourite games.

When it comes to playing bingo on the internet, you certainly won’t be short of choice.  By following our beginners guide on how to play online bingo you should be a lot better prepared when it comes to deciding on which platform best suits your needs.