Online bingo is the convenient way for many people to join in with their favourite game, and has become even more popular in the UK in the years since smoking was banned in bricks-and-mortar bingo halls.
You get the best of both worlds – professional, licensed and regulated games that give you a fair chance of winning, and the sense of community that you’d get at a ‘real’ bingo hall, recreated in the form of a lively chat room.
However, if you’re new to online gambling, it’s not always immediately obvious how online bingo works, or what you have to do to make sure you claim on any winning tickets.
Luckily, it’s easy to learn – on the one hand, the basic gameplay is the same as ever, while on the other, all of the tricky parts are usually done for you.
How to Register
The first thing you’ll need to do if you want to play online bingo for real money, is to register a funded account. Most online bingo sites will make this very easy, so look for the ‘register’ button on their homepage and follow the step-by-step instructions. You’ll probably need a bank card, or an online bank account like PayPal, in order to put some funds into your account – and you might find the website automatically doubles this as a thank you for signing up.
Think carefully about your choice of username, as there’s a good chance this is the name that will appear when you log into the chat room, so it’s one you’re likely to be stuck with for your entire online bingo career at the site.
Once you have created and logged into your account, you should find yourself in the ‘lobby’ of your chosen bingo site – basically a menu screen, from which you can choose which virtual bingo room to play in.
Look out for different game types – 90-ball and 75-ball are the main two options you’ll usually see – and make sure you know the rules of each.
Click on a room to enter it, and then follow the instructions on-screen to buy tickets for the next game. In 90-ball bingo in particular, if you buy all the available tickets on any one strip, you should usually have covered every number from 1 to 90.
Once your tickets are purchased, there’s usually no refunds available, so be sure before you click ‘buy’, and then it’s just a matter of waiting for the countdown to reach zero and the game to begin.
The game itself is the same as in any real-world bingo hall; balls are drawn at random, you tick off the numbers on your tickets, and the winner is the first person to complete a line, full house, or 75-ball pattern, depending on which room you’re in. However, there are a couple of important differences – one that happens behind the scenes, and one that you’ll be able to see in action.
Firstly, the balls drawn are not based on any real-life balls or machinery; instead, they are generated at random by a piece of software.
This software is carefully regulated and licensed, so you should find that, if anything, online bingo games are even fairer and more random than those based on drawing real balls, which might not all be perfectly identical to one another.
Secondly, most bingo sites default to an ‘autodaub’ mode, which ticks off your numbers for you as each ball is drawn.
You can sometimes switch this off and daub your numbers yourself – there’s no risk to doing this, as any prizes your tickets win will be paid to you, even if you’ve missed daubing a number somewhere along the way.
Most online bingo sites have a sense of community to them, with a live chat room to let players talk to one another while games are taking place.
Learn the rules of your chosen chat room – few will tolerate bullying or cruelty to other players, and even though online bingo is usually for over-18s only, most of the chat rooms still won’t welcome adult humour or excessive flirting.
To keep people in check, these rooms normally have a chat moderator or ‘CM’ – their username might even include the letters CM at the start, to let you know they are in control, or their name might appear at the top of the list of current ‘roomies’.
If you have any problems, or a dispute with another player, these live CMs are often the best first place to go for help, rather than contacting the main support desk of your preferred site.
The Bingo Lingo
If you’ve never played online bingo before, one of the other surprising things you might encounter is ‘bingo lingo‘ – acronyms and turns of phrase that you’re never likely to see anywhere but on a bingo site.
Before a game begins, you’ll see a lot of roomies saying ‘GL‘ in the chat – this stands for ‘Good Luck‘ and is a quick and easy way to express your best wishes to your fellow players. ‘3TG‘, ‘2TG‘ and ‘1TG‘ are ways of saying how many numbers you have left ‘to go’ before a win, so if you see a lot of 1TGs appearing in the chat, you’ll know it’s a hotly contested game.
And ‘WTG‘ continues this trend, but means ‘Way To Go’ – and is a way for everyone to congratulate the winner. You might also see ‘WD’ meaning ‘Well Done’ on some sites.
You’ll pick up the parlance as you go along anyway, but it’s good to know a couple of these shorthand methods to make sure that you get your message across in time during the frenzy of a full-speed bingo game.
Obviously, what you’re hoping for is a win – and online bingo makes it as easy as possible for you to claim your prize.
Not only does it autodaub your tickets, as described above, it also pays the prize money straight into your account after a win.
If you leave the room for any reason, or buy tickets in advance then can’t make it online for the relevant game, your tickets still get played, autodaubbed, and any prize money paid into your account.
All you need to do is remember to withdraw your funds when you’ve won an amount that you’re happy with, or leave them in your bingo account if you want to use them to buy more tickets and hopefully win again.