How to Host A Bingo Event: Top Tips You Need To Know

Tips for Hosting BingoAre you thinking of running your own bingo night?

Perhaps as a bit of fun at a party, or for a work event or social activity at a community venue, or even for a charity event to raise money for good causes?

It’s a good idea, especially if you are already a fan of bingo anyway because your enthusiasm for the game will shine through and improve the experience for everyone taking part – but where do you start?

As a player, a game of bingo is made as simple as possible for you by the people who run it; they provide everything you need and all you have to do is sit back and enjoy yourself.

If the shoe is on the other foot though, there is a lot that needs to be arranged before the game can go ahead, and you might suddenly find yourself feeling out of your depth.

It sounds like you could use some tips for running your own bingo game, and luckily for you, this is not my first bingo rodeo, so I have put together my own top tips for running a game of bingo below.

Legal UKIf this was your first thought, then congratulations, you are a socially responsible potential bingo game organiser.

It’s true that bingo is gambling, and in order to operate a bingo business you would need a gambling license from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission.

However, a one off game for fun or for charity doesn’t usually fall under these conditions, so the good news is that it probably is perfectly legal for your game to go ahead.

We have written a separate article about this with all of the necessary details here, and the Government also have their own advice on this website, so have a look at those if you want to be sure.

The basic rule though, is that so long as the prize is a fixed amount or something that is not cash, you’re safe from the SWAT team battering your door down. Do check those articles for specifics on the amounts you can charge and pay out though.

The other important thing, is that no one is allowed to profit from the game (this does not include the winners), unless it’s a game for a charity or good cause. Again, check those articles for specifics.

Anyway, this is a top tips article, not a legal jargon article, so let’s move on to the practicalities shall we?

Bingo Equipment

Bingo Balls in Motion

Chances are, you’re not going to be using those bingo bees that all the bingo clubs have invested in, so you’re going to have to get hold of some bingo tickets and the like aren’t you.

Let’s look at the bits and bobs you are going to need to get your hands on:

  • A venue
  • Dabbers for marking off numbers, or pens and pencils as a last minute solution
  • Bingo tickets (90 ball or 75 ball probably easiest to get hold of)
  • A bingo machine or a way to call the numbers
  • Tables, chairs, and maybe a microphone for the caller
  • Prizes

It’s not a huge list, which is another reason that bingo is such a winner for small groups and organisations who want to run an event – it’s so easy and cheap to set up.

That said, if you forget just one element, or don’t order enough, it could seriously derail the game, so don’t leave anything to chance.

Make a list, get anything that needs ordering ordered well in advance, and make arrangements for things like the venue and seating – ideally with an agreement in writing if the venue isn’t a location you always have access to.

Let’s look at each category one at a time.


Bingo VenueChances are, if you are an organisation or charity you will already have a venue that is either yours, or that you use regularly for meetings and the like.

If you are hosting a bingo night at home for friends then the venue isn’t a consideration at all – you live in it.

However, if anyone does need to find a venue for their bingo night, then some places are better than others.

First off, and this is so obvious that you might not have thought about it, but it is possible to hire an actual bingo hall if you are hosting a really big event.

Many bingo halls allow external companies to come in and run events in them, like Bongos Bingo for example, and they already have everything you need so you are essentially buying a bingo package.

This won’t be feasible for most people as it would be expensive, so better options are church halls, local community centres, function rooms, and social centres.

The good thing about these is that they usually have their own tables and chairs, and may even have a stage or a platform where the caller can set up and be seen by everyone who attends.

Plus, because they are community focussed, they don’t usually cost the earth either, and may even do a freebie for a charity event.

Tables, Chairs, Microphone

Microphone for BingoHopefully this will all be taken care of for you by the venue you use.

Those using their homes won’t need to worry about it, other than perhaps getting a few emergency chairs down from the loft or begging them from a neighbour.

However, if you do find yourself in need of a few tables and chairs you probably won’t want to buy them for a single event.

You can of course, if you have plans for them afterwards, but a far easier option is just to hire them from a local company.

It’s going to add to your costs, sadly, but it’s an option if you can’t find an alternative.

If you only need a few you could always borrow them and then cover them with white table cloths to keep everything looking uniform and smart. Whether or not this is important will depend on the tone of your event.

As for a microphone, this will only be necessary in larger spaces or when the caller is on the quiet side.

My first suggestion here would be to get someone with a bit more confidence to do the calling. It’s really not hard to be heard in even a large room if you project a little bit.

Failing that, a hand-held microphone with an amp is surprisingly affordable if you can’t borrow one. Local amateur dramatic associations might be a good place to try because even if they want a small fee, it won’t be as much as buying new or hiring from a tech company.

You could even hire an entertainer as a bingo caller who will come with their own equipment and probably cost about the same, except you get the additional benefit of having a professional on the mic and probably boosting the entertainment factor of the whole evening to boot.

Dabbers, Pens, Pencils

Bingo Dabbers for Bingo NightPersonally, I would go for dabbers every time as they are a million times more fun than a boring old HB pencil.

That said, if you really are on a budget, anything that writes will do – just make sure you can still see the numbers underneath or you will struggle to verify claims.

Dabbers aren’t that expensive, you don’t have to go to town on them, and you can buy them in bulk. Just order more than you think you will need.

There are specialist bingo websites that sell them, but a good tip is to check stationary aisles in supermarkets and the like, as they are often sold for children to do arts and crafts with too.

Another good tip if you can’t find dabbers is to go for highlighters. These are more interesting than pens and pencils and you can see through them, so they aren’t exactly on brand, but they do the job.

I don’t need to tell you how to get hold of pens and pencils, but I would say that they are not an ideal choice. Maybe ask players to circle their numbers rather than crossing them off if you must use them.

Bingo Tickets

Bingo TicketsIf anything was going to prove difficult to get hold of, it would be bingo tickets.

They aren’t the sort of thing you see on your weekly shopping trips, are they?

They are actually readily available online if you do a quick search, and they are very cheap too, but you need to make sure you are getting the right type. Most people go for 90 ball in this country (tickets for 90 ball bingo look like the ones in the image on the right).

They can come in different sizes too, so a good tip is to buy a size that will work for your players; for example, if you are buying for a lot of older people, you might consider getting a bigger size so the numbers are easier to see.

If the bingo tickets you buy come in a book, another tip would be to have them separated into strips before you start to hand them out. It will save time, and if you are someone that gets anxious or feels the pressure in busy environments, it will also save panicked fumbling and the accidental tearing of tickets.

An alternative option to buying bingo tickets, is to use an online bingo ticket generator and print your own tickets. It’s a bit more work, but the benefit is you can often give the tickets a design that will suit your event or organisation – you could put your company logo on them for instance if it was for a work event.

This probably won’t be free, but it may well be a good option for charity groups, for example, or any organisation that is trying to increase awareness.

Bingo Machine or Cage

Bingo MachineYou’ve got the tickets and a way to mark off the numbers, but how are you going to draw the numbers in the first place?

You need a bingo machine of some description.

There are two options really; a physical machine with bingo balls, or an electric number generator.

That second option could be quite expensive, even if you opt to hire something from a party or event hire company, but the benefit is that it will come with a display that shows the numbers as they are called, making it easier for the players to follow.

For a bigger event this might be worthwhile, but isn’t necessary if cost is an issue.

You might think getting an actual bingo machine would be difficult, but did you know they sell them in miniature as a family game?

Alright, you might look a bit silly turning the tiny handle and squinting to see the number on the tiny bingo balls, but it could also add a lot of humour to the game if that would suit the tone of your event.

There are loads of them on the market if you do a search, so you can find bigger machines and balls, machines that come with multi coloured balls or plain black and white options, and even complete bingo sets that come with tickets too – although I would suggest getting your own rather than using these as they are often very cheap and not great quality.


Bingo PrizesYou can have loads of fun here.

Comedy prizes and in-joke type prizes are always a hit if your bingo event is for a group of people who know each other, work together, or all have something central bringing them together.

Cash is obviously nice too, but if you are hoping to get prizes donated for free it’s unlikely that cash will be offered up by the companies or people doing the donating.

For any charities or groups raising money, approaching local businesses is a great way to get prizes at no cost, but those prizes will be products or experiences that the business involved already sells.

So a beauty parlour might gift a pampering experience, for example, or a local shop might donate £50 worth of vouchers or a gift hamper.

This is the main area where you will have to be careful about the legal side of things. You can give cash out as a prize so long as it is a fixed amount under a set threshold, but you run the risk of not selling enough tickets to cover your costs.

It all depends on the reason you are holding a bingo game in the first place.

10 Top Tips for Hosting Bingo

Top Tips for Hosting Bingo

Assuming you are doing everything yourself, including the organisation and the calling, here are my top 10 tips for hosting your own bingo game or bingo night.

  1. Make a plan – For every step of the event, have a plan worked out including timings, layout, who is doing what, when and how prizes will be given out, etc. Trust me, things will go more smoothly and you will enjoy yourself more.
  2. Over order – Buy about 10% more of the consumable items than you think you will need. Better to have some left over than to run out and disrupt the event.
  3. Set up early – If you can set up the night before, that’s ideal. If not, get there nice and early on the day. That way you can check the bingo machine works, check the mic works, check check check.
  4. Rules – Explain the rules before you start, especially what happens if a call is missed or late, or if two people claim on the same number. If you do this at the beginning everybody knows where they stand.
  5. Prizes on Display – If you have physical prizes then set them out for people to see. If it’s a cash prize, perhaps create something like a big cheque with the amount on. It makes the game feel more exciting, people know what they are playing for, and you can reference the prizes too.
  6. Bingo calls – Professional bingo halls don’t use the old bingo calls anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. If you plan on using them, have a print out to hand so you don’t forget any of them.
  7. Repetition – When calling the numbers, make sure you say each number twice so that no one misses a call and ends up losing out.
  8. Encourage applause – When there is a winner, encourage everyone else to congratulate them. It breeds a positive atmosphere, stops people taking things too seriously, and makes winning feel extra special for the lucky ones. They might give you a clap at the end too if you train them well, which would be very nice, wouldn’t it?
  9. Jokes – It can be useful to have a few jokes in your back pocket in case you need them. If there is any sort of delay or you think things are going a little flat, you can keep things buoyant with a bit of silly humour. Check out our bingo jokes page if you want something on trend, but you could equally have funny facts about your company or organisation if it is that sort of event.
  10. End on a high – Whatever happens during the event, end it on an upward note. Thanks everyone for coming, if it was for charity you can announce how much has been raised and how it will help people. Congratulate the winners, and if you have the confidence maybe even hark back to something funny that has happened during the event. Don’t let things end on a damp squib.

A lot of what you do and don’t do will depend on the event and what it is for of course – I haven’t mentioned food and drink for example, because it is not actually part of the game and what you choose to do here will depend on the specifics of your event.

You could give the event a theme, or create your own bingo calls based on the purpose of the event or the people attending; “Saving lives, number five” or “John’s always late, eighty eight” for example. You might want to play some music, or have people come up to draw a ball every so often, or even let everyone have a go at being the caller for a game.

Feel free to use your best judgement when it comes to the tips offered here, you know your audience better than me, but as a basic framework the advice on this page is solid.

One final bit of advice that seems obvious but can be easy to forget, is to make sure you record which numbers have been called in a way that you can easily check when a claim is made. The last thing you want is to be fumbling through all the balls looking for the ones marked off on the winners ticket. You would be surprised how often people forget this vital step.

Most of all, enjoy it!

Bingo is a wonderful, simple, accessible game that anyone and everyone can enjoy, so don’t take it too seriously – you’ll do a great job.