What is the National Bingo Game?

National Bingo Game LogoThe veteran bingo hall regulars among us might look at this is a rather obvious question, but not all bingo fans discovered the game in a bingo hall you know.

Some of us discovered the game we all love to play online, and in fact, some bingo fans may never have even set foot in a bingo hall as crazy at that concept might sound.

The online world opened the game up to many more people to be enjoyed in all sorts of different ways, although anyone who has ever experienced a rollocking night of bingo will agree that there is nothing quite like it, and certainly nothing you can find online to match it.

Well one of the reason for this is the subject of this article, The National Bingo Game.

It’s been running for donkeys years, has changed a bit it’s true, but is still the highlight of the evening for a lot of people, so let’s have a little look see what it is all about.

An Explanation of the National Bingo Game

National Bingo Game Dabber

As you might expect from the name, the National Game is played across all clubs in the country who choose to take part.

Almost all of them do because it attracts customers, with around 260 playing in the afternoon and around 300 in the evening. So whether you play at Club3000, Buzz, Cosmo, or anywhere else, you can most likely join in.

The game is run by the National Bingo Game Association (NBGA), a limited company by guarantee, which means it is managed by a board of directors, and these people all work for the various different bingo brands up and down the country. So it’s not biased towards one brand or anything like that.

The game itself is a full house only game that is played twice a day every day except Christmas, with a potentially huge prize to be claimed, as well as club prizes at every bingo club.

It is billed as:

“Player Pleasing, Jackpot Teasing, and Instant Winning”

This is for good reason, because players do love it, and largely because of the big jackpots that can be won instantly on any single game.

Here’s the breakdown:

# of Calls Prize
24 or Less £100
20 or Less £1,000
16 or Less £50,000

The specifics of the game have changed a few times over the years, but as of the restructuring in 2018 tickets cost £1 for two or £2 for five.

You can often get them included in the morning and evening packs the clubs usually sell, which are effectively bundles of tickets at a single price that will see you through a whole morning, afternoon, or evening session.

How do Different Bingo Clubs Link Up to Play the Same Game?

InternetIsn’t technology clever?

This is actually quite old tech, and it is called ADSL, which is a type of secure internet connection.

You probably know what a Zoom call or a Skype call is, and this is effectively the same thing but without video.

A main computer draws the numbers and tells all of the computers at the different bingo clubs which number has just been drawn at exactly the same time.

There will be one single caller calling the numbers who can be heard by every club that is taking part, and this responsibility is on rotation so that each club location gets a turn at being the one doing the live calling.

Meanwhile, all of the callers at the other clubs are dialled into the same connection, so if someone at their club makes a claim they can stop the game by saying something like “Claim Stalybridge” (or wherever their club is based) into the mic, which will be heard at all the other clubs.

The main caller then stops the game, the claim is checked and the win is confirmed.

How Often Does Someone Win the Main £50k Prize?

Bingo Winner

That £50k main prize is obviously the target for anyone playing the National Bingo Game, and you might be thinking no one ever wins in under 16 numbers or fewer, but it happens a lot more often than you might think.

We did an article on the average number of calls needed for a full house, but remember, this is a National Game, so you can multiply the average club attendance by around 250-300 for this one.

For example, in 2022 there were more the 60 winners who each walked away with £50k in their purses or pockets – in fact, in both March and June there were 7 winners each month, that’s almost two a week.

That’s nothing compared to August of 2020 though, when there were nine £50k winners.

So as you can see, those big wins are not exactly rare.

History of the National Bingo Game

National Bingo Game History

Once technology made it possible to link bingo clubs live across the country, The National Game was able to launch.

The very first time it was played was in July 1986, and to be honest the tech hasn’t changed all that much since! Some of the equipment they use to set up and maintain the communication between clubs is ancient.

The game reigned supreme as the UK’s biggest computer controlled game from its inception until 1994, when the National Lottery was launched, dwarfing the National Bingo Game and also doing a fair bit of damage to the bingo industry as a whole.

Tickets started out at 25p per ticket, increasing as the years went on through 30p, 40p, 50p, and then eventually settling the pricing structure as it is today.

Originally, the main prize was given to the player who called a full house first countrywide, regardless of the number of calls, then further prizes would be given out to the first players to get a full house in each region (North West, South East etc).

This meant prizes were bigger back in the day, but there were fewer winners overall.

Fun Fact – Biggest Win

The biggest prize ever won in the game was £1,167,795, back in 2008. It went to Soraya Lowell from Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, who was playing at her local Club3000. She even honoured an existing agreement to split any winnings with her bingo playing pal, Agnes.

This happy tale turned tragic, however, when Agnes died in bed just 2 months after receiving her £600k share of the prize, and 4 years later, Soraya went bankrupt and her house was repossessed. Not exactly a fairy tale ending…

In the early 2000’s the National Bingo Game also launched a sort of X Factor competition for bingo callers, named the Bingo Caller of the Year Award.

It ran annually from 1999 to 2008, before taking a ten year break and returning in 2019, only to be halted by the COVID 19 pandemic, but it was back again with a bang in 2022.

Since 1986, over £1 billion has been paid out in prize money by the National Bingo Game, which is quite a chunk of change we are sure you will agree.