How Does Online Bingo Work?

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Credit: ErinKohlenberg/

Whether you’ve played bingo before or you’re a complete bingo virgin, you probably know that bingo is a game of chance right? It’s fun, social and usually very low cost to players, so provides exciting gaming that is very good value for money.

Generally the main aim of the game whether playing online or in a bingo hall, is to mark off numbers on a card and complete a line or a full house to then win a prize.

There are however so many more things that are involved with online bingo. These include bingo variations, side games and chat rooms too, plus a whole bingo language all of its own. Here are a few insider hints and tips to help you understand the online bingo world a bit more.

Which Online Bingo Site Should I Choose?

girl playing mobile bingo app screenshotChoosing a bingo site to play at is purely down to you. There are so many different ones available these days, so simply look for a site that appeals to you and sign up. Registration takes just a few minutes, and then you can start playing bingo straight away.

You may have seen lots of TV adverts or magazine advertisements for some of the bigger branded sites, but there are also hundreds of smaller more intimate sites too.

It’s very much all about your own personal preferences, so have a search around and see which one suits you best. There may even be a couple that you like to switch between. There are lots of reviews available on this website too, so have a read through and they should help you decide where to start.

Here are a few of the main things that may differ from site to site:

  • Brands – Some online bingo sites belong to bigger branded gaming companies. These sites may also offer links to separate platforms for casino, lotto, football etc, and these platforms will all fall under the same brand.
  • Size – Some online bingo sites may be attached to bigger branded betting platforms and bingo hall chains, whilst other sites may be completely independent. Some of the smaller sites can have more of a personal feel, however there may be less choice of games and smaller prizes on offer.
  • Themes – A lot of online bingo sites are based on a certain theme. This can help differentiate them and help them stand out amongst the crowd. They will have a particular colour scheme or a mascot, and the games may be based on the whole theme of the site too. This can offer a really fun element to the bingo, and it helps give the websites a nice personal feel.
  • Software and Networks – All online bingo sites will be operated on a particular software or network, and each network may run multiple bingo sites. Therefore you may notice a similarity in some sites and this is because they will belong to the same network or “family”.
  • Payment – Payment options can vary from site to site. Some may offer a wide range including e wallets and paypal, whereas some of the smaller sites only take card payments. Every site nearly always has a dedicated banking section, so you can always take a look through that before you decide to sign up.
  • Games – Games will differ across most sites, but generally you will get a good variety of bingo and slots. Some will offer big branded games, whilst other sites may have their own unique games.

What Types of Online Bingo Games Can You Play?

There are many different types of bingo available to play online. The variants can differ from site to site, and can depend on which network the site belongs to. Most sites however will nearly always offer the following games:

  • 90 ball bingo
  • 80 ball bingo
  • 75 ball bingo
  • 30 ball bingo

Each site may vary the themes and names of these games, but generally there are nearly always the same rules.  Here’s a brief outline of each of these popular online bingo games:

Online Bingo Game How To Play
90-ball bingo This is the most traditional game of bingo. Games are played on 9×3 grid and there will be 15 numbers ranging from 1 through to 90. Generally there will be three prizes up for grabs, two lines then a full house with the prizes increasing. The two individual line prizes can be any line on the grid unless otherwise stated, and the full house is where all 15 numbers are marked off.
80-ball bingo This game is also know as coverall bingo. You will be presented with a 4×4 grid with numbers ranging from 1 through to 80, and the first person to mark off all 16 numbers wins. There is only one prize to be won on this game.
75-ball bingo This game is also know as pattern bingo, and features a 5×5 grid containing numbers ranging from 1 to 75. There are sometimes coverall games on offer, but mostly the person who marks off the stated pattern first wins. This can either be a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line.
30-ball bingo This a fast past speed bingo game. It features a 3×3 grid with 9 numbers , and the aim of the game is to mark off all 9 numbers first. There is only one prize on offer in this game.

How do I buy online bingo tickets?

Buying tickets for a game is ever so simple. You simply head to the bingo room you want to play in and there will be bingo tickets displayed on your screen. You select the desired amount you wish to purchase and hey presto, off you go. You will need to deposit money into your account to play, unless it is a free bingo game or you have bingo bonus funds.

What happens if I miss a number?

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There is no need to worry about missing numbers when you play online bingo. The bingo sites are automatically set to mark all numbers, and the site will know which tickets are set to win.

Therefore you can buy as many tickets as you like and not have to move your mouse around all over the place to try and keep up. Now you do have the option to mark your own tickets manually however if you’d prefer. Simply go into the settings of the bingo room and select to manually daub your tickets.

You will still never miss a number when playing online bingo , as the system will always know what tickets you have and knows if you’re going to win or not.  If you daub away manually and accidentally miss a number, you will still automatically be credited with your winnings if you’re playing on a winning card.

What happens if more than one person wins?

As a lot of bingo networks are linked with other rooms on other sites, there can be quite a few players playing in each game. In the bigger branded rooms you could be playing with lots of people all over the UK, which can mean that there are joint winners at times.

In this instance, the prize will be split between the winnings players accounts. This is very similar to the rules of a physical bingo hall.

Is playing online bingo fair?

fair compass screenshotWhen it comes to playing online bingo, it can get very frustrating when you’re waiting for one number and someone wins. This can be seem the same when playing in bingo halls too. There can be quite a lot of comments in chat rooms stating that the same names seem to win all the time, but it is purely just down to luck at the end of the day.

All online bingo sites are licensed and regulated by official governing bodies to provide fair gaming across the board. An RGN (Random Number Generator) is always used to randomly select numbers in every single game.

Every site will have a full terms and conditions section, so you can have a scour of those to read more into the laws that they must abide by.

The main governing bodies you may come across are

  • UK Gambling Commission
  • Gambling Commission of the Isle Of Man
  • Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner
  • Alderney Gambling Control

Deposit methods accepted?

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Credit: GotCredit/

Every online bingo site will have a clear list of their deposit methods stated usually on their homepage. Methods can vary from site to site but in general making a deposit couldn’t be simpler. Just follow the on screen instructions and choose whichever method you prefer.

Some of the smaller sites may only have the facilities to accept debit cards, whereas some of the larger sites will have a much larger variety of payment options available to you.  Note, however, that you can no longer use a credit card to deposit to a bingo site in the UK.

Some of the main options you will come across throughout most online bingo sites are:

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • Visa Electron
  • Maestro
  • Switch
  • Solo
  • Bank Wire
  • PayPal
  • Paysafecard
  • Skrill
  • Neteller
  • UKash
  • Entropay

Why do online bingo sites offer bonuses?

welcome bonus iphone screenshotNearly all online bingo sites these days will offer a generous welcome bonus package. It’s a great way to entice players to sign up, but also gives you the chance to really trial the site and have a go on lots of games at very little cost.

A lot of bonuses also include free bingo games and entrance into the newbie chat rooms. This will allow you to chat away to other new starters and also get advice and get an insight into the social side of the site too.

There are a few different types of welcome bonuses however, and some can sound slightly overwhelming at first glance. Here’s a list of the main types you could come across, and brief details as to what they mean:

Welcome bonus What it means
No deposit bonus This is a free bonus offered by the bingo site as a way of allowing players to test drive the site and its games for free. The amount of bonus cash awarded is non-withdrawable, and you will need to play through the bonus on the games stated. Some online bingo sites will still want you to provide your bank details upon registration. This is usually just for age verification purposes only and no money will be taken from the card. If you don’t add your payment details when requested, you will forfeit your free no deposit bonus.
Deposit bonus This is a bonus offered on your first initial deposit. The amount you’ll receive varies from each bingo site, but for example if you get a 300% welcome deposit bonus and you deposit £10, you will get £30 in bingo bonus funds, giving you a total of £40 to play with.
Cash match bonus This bonus just matches what you deposit. So if you deposit £50, you’ll get £50 free bonus funds, giving you a total of £100 to play with.

Why can’t I withdraw?

When you sign up to an online bingo site, make sure you read the terms and conditions of every bonus offered. Try not to just go charging in like a bull in a china shop, as you should always know the requirements to avoid confusion later on.

Virtually all bonuses come with wagering requirements. This means that you will have to play through your bonus, and sometimes even the deposit a certain amount of times before you can withdraw any winnings.

For Example:

If you deposit £10 and the wagering requirement is 25 x the deposit, then you will have to play 25x £10 before you can withdraw.

£10 x 25 = £250.

Always read the terms of every bonus as it may not be worth your while to accept them all as they could end up costing you more money before you can withdraw.

How do I get my winnings?

If you win a game of online bingo, then congratulations. The next task is to withdraw your cash and start spending.

To do this you simply go to your account and request a withdrawal. Whatever payment method you used to fund your account, will usually be the one that they send the cash back to.

Time scales can vary, but here are a few guidelines:

Withdrawal type Processing time (Approximate)
Debit card 3-5 days
Paypal Instant to 7 days
E wallets 3-7 days
Moneybookers 3-7 days
Bank Transfer 7-10 days

What happens if I have a problem?

help signpost screenshotIf you encounter a problem or an issue playing online bingo, you can always contact customer support through the options on the bingo site.

All sites will vary but nearly all online bingo sites these days will have a live chat feature. This is great as you will get a response almost immediately, and you should hopefully get your problem sorted asap.

Most sites will also have a telephone number, email address and postal address available too.

Bingo chat terms and abbreviations

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Bingo lingo is a term used to describe bingo chat. Sometimes people don’t want to type long words, so they shorten them to make it quicker and easy to understand. Here’s a brief insight into common lingo you will encounter:

  • OMG – oh my god
  • ROFL – roll on the floor laughing
  • SYS – see you soon
  • SS – so sorry
  • WDW – well done winner
  • 1TG/2TG/3TG – the amount of numbers you’re waiting for (1 to go etc)
  • TYVM – thank you very much
  • GL – good luck
  • TY – thank you
  • ASL – age, sex, location
  • LOL – laughing out loud
  • TC – take care
  • WTG – way to go
  • YW – you’re welcome
  • HB – hurry back
  • GN – good night
  • NP – no problem


Bingo keyboard button screenshotFirst things first, choose a bingo site that takes your fancy, have a look around, check out the welcome offer, and then sign up. Just register your details and payment info, then get playing some bingo.

Some key things to remember:

  1. Read all terms and conditions of the welcome offer and any other bonuses before accepting.
  2. Navigate the site a bit first and visit the help pages and live chat feature for any questions.
  3. Have a read of some of the blogs and winners pages to see other players stories, advice and hints.
  4. If there’s an option for free bingo then jump right in. This will be the perfect way to get a feel for the site and the chat rooms etc.

The most important thing to remember as with any game is to have fun. Online bingo is a fantastic social game that is cheap to play and has amazing prizes and pay outs. You can get involved with the chat rooms and social media pages as much or as little as you like, and there are always fantastic promotions up for grabs.

There are hundreds of sites to choose from, so have a good hunt around, trial a few out, find which one’s you prefer, and never be afraid to ask for advice.  There are lots of articles and reviews here on this site so have a read through, and you can always ask the sites themselves for help.