How Bingo is Played Around the World

While online bingo sites may be the way most people play today, thanks to it being incredibly convenient and offering a massive variety of games, that hasn’t always been the case. Join us at Kitty Bingo as we take a look at how bingo is played around the world and the different ways that people play.


Australians have been enjoying bingo, or as it’s more commonly known, housie, for decades. Australian players currently enjoy three of the most popular types of bingo games: 75-, 80-, and 90-ball bingo. The 90-ball variant is the UK version (which we’ll unpack in more detail later), while the 80-ball game is closer to the US version of the game (which we also cover later), albeit with a smaller 4x4 bingo card.


While Japan has very strict rules regarding gambling in person, legislation has yet to be put in place clearly legalising or banning gambling online. This means you can easily play online bingo in the country, which has allowed it to flourish. In fact, the biggest online game ever was hosted by Coca-Cola Japan, with 493,824 people logging on to play an online game at its (now-closed) media platform Coca-Cola Park. According to the Guinness World Records, this record was set on 3 September 2010 and has yet to be broken.


While it may not be common knowledge to the rest of the world, bingo is actually a remarkably popular game in Sweden. The bingo-playing residents of this Scandanavian country not only play in bingo halls and online, they also fancy a bit of drive-in bingo! In 2015, The Guardian reported that young Swedish players had embraced this new way of playing during the summer, as it allowed them to enjoy the game, as well as a bit of time in the countryside. The article also highlighted that, unlike the US and UK, a lot of players at the time were young – a contrast to the stereotype that bingo is only played and enjoyed by older folk.


Many of you likely already know that bingo is big business in the UK, but have you ever wondered how big? According to an article by MercoPress, an independent news agency that was started in 1993, the online bingo industry brought in more than £1 billion of revenue in the 2018-2019 tax year, putting it more than £250 million ahead of the combined total that Netflix and Spotify made during the same year.

But what is it about bingo that has UK players coming back for more?

Well, let’s take a look at the game itself first. Unlike the US, which enjoys the 75-ball version, players here prefer the 90-ball game. Apart from having more bingo balls, this version of the game also has a slightly different bingo card. The UK bingo card is a 9x3 format, with five random numbers in each row.

The 90-ball version keeps the idea that players must complete a row to make a win, but it takes it one step further by adding prizes for each row of numbers that you complete. Completing one row is known as “one line”; completing two rows is known as “two line”; while completing all three rows is known as a “full house”. This means players in the UK have three chances to walk away with a prize on a single bingo card!

It’s this simple formula that’s kept people coming back for more since the 1960s. When the game first arrived, it was obviously 30 years before the invention of the internet and 20 years before computers started becoming mainstream, so people had to actually meet in person to play! That’s right: even though they’re less popular than they used to be, there was a time when bingo halls absolutely flourished! They gave locals a place to enjoy a game, as well as congregate and socialise with friends and other lovers of this game of chance.

Even though bingo halls are going the way of the dodo, there are still a few land-based locations you can pop into for a few rounds. But the focus for most players has undoubtedly shifted online, with people able to enjoy playing on their computers at home, or even on their mobile phones on their way to work! These online bingo sites are not only super-convenient, but also offer players great bingo bonuses, so they can play more, for less.


While America may not have been the first country to get in on the bingo craze, it sure helped revive the game. Bingo became a truly global phenomenon after a US salesman, Edwin S Lowe, saw the game being played at a carnival in 1929.

Lowe sensed that the game, which was known back then as Beano, had massive potential, and decided to release his version of it. He set about designing and testing his take on Beano; one day, during a play-testing session, one of his friends accidentally shouted “Bingo!” when they won, instead of “Beano!”. Lowe clearly knew a good thing when he saw (and heard) it, so he changed the name of his game to bingo – and so now you know.

The game would go on to be a massive success across the US, with the catchier name of “bingo” helping ignite or reignite interest in this game of chance across the rest of the world.

The American version of the game is played using 75 bingo balls, and a 5x5 bingo card with a “free number” in the middle. This free number increases your chance of winning if you complete a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, across the middle of the card. While the most commonly played version of the game requires the player to complete a row to win, different versions of this game substitute other patterns, including squares, crosses, and even heart shapes.

The 75-ball version of bingo is now one of the most popular types of the game worldwide, and that’s mostly thanks to the rise and success of online bingo.

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/ 20 July 2021