Online Bingo Sites
Bingo halls are definitely among the most popular gambling establishments in the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia, so it should come as no surprise that some of the first online bingo sites were launched as early as 1996. Online bingo came a long way since then and nowadays, virtually every major gambling network allows you to play several variations of this game. What’s more, free to play bingo is readily accessible on Facebook and multiple social gaming sites.
The global online bingo gaming yield is estimated to total more than $1 billion, which makes the market extremely competitive and forces the top sites to adhere to the highest standards when it comes to visuals, gameplay and promotions. As a result, finding a quality online bingo network isn’t difficult, but you should keep in mind that, as is often the case in the online gambling industry, every great bingo website is generally followed by three or four mediocre ones.
How Online Bingo Works
The rules of online bingo are very similar to the rules of live bingo games, which makes it very easy for any live bingo enthusiast to join the action right away. However, you should keep in mind that there are a few crucial differences between online and offline games.
First of all, unlike regular bingo halls, online bingo sites use a random number generator to provide the outcome of each game. Furthermore, many online bingo sites belong to a larger network. In such a case, each site on the network may come with different visuals, feel and promotions, but the player pool and bingo rooms are shared, resulting in bigger games and more sizable jackpots.
Another interesting feature of online bingo is the fact that unlike poker rooms and casino sites, bingo sites really care about the social aspect of the game. Consequently, virtually every site allows you to chat with the other players and actually encourages interaction in order to foster a sense of community.
How Online Bingo Sites Earn Money
Much like other online gambling sites, online bingo sites earn their money by withholding between 5% and 40% of the price of each ticket purchased in one of their games. While those numbers might initially seem very high, it’s important to remember that most bingo sites offer exceptionally lucrative bonuses and promotions, which means that you’ll usually have a considerable bankroll at your disposal, at least when compared with the actual size of your deposit. Consequently, players are able to extend the time they spend with the site even in case of a rather unlucky streak of losses.
What’s more, having more money at your disposal is simply more enjoyable, especially for the recreational players who would otherwise be limited to buying the cheapest bingo tickets. Keep in mind that this holds true for all variants of bingo, which makes your life a little bit easier – unlike in poker, you won’t have to worry about rake being deducted using a different mechanism for tournaments and cash games.
Fairness and Security
Playing online bingo is 100% safe as long as you pick a reputable site. Good bingo sites use the latest SSL encryption technology to protect both your financial and personal information. What’s more, if you pick a well-known site, you can rest assured that this kind of sensitive information won’t be provided to any unauthorized third party, as bingo networks have too much to lose in case of a scandal.
It’s always important to check whether your site’s Random Number Generator has been tested by an independent auditor. The reasons for this are simple: a truly random RNG will provide you with a fair outcome in every single game, while a non-certified RNG might be stacking the odds in favor of the bingo site to maximize its profits. Consequently, playing on small bingo websites is inherently risky, as the unfortunate truth is that some of them exist for the sole purpose of scamming their customers.
Another advantage of playing on a reputable network is that you can be sure your withdrawals will always arrive on time. Small bingo sites don’t have the financial liquidity to guarantee that, which means that your cash outs might be delayed even when there’s no malicious intent on their part.
Basic Bingo Rules
Bingo might be a fairly simple game, but joining the room without understanding the basic rules might be an exercise in frustration. Each time you join a bingo room, you’ll have to buy a number of tickets or cards, which are different for every variant of the game. When the game begins, the automated caller will announce the balls that should be marked on your card – the goal is to achieve a winning combination before the other players manage to do so.
Quite obviously, whenever two or more players win on the same ball, they split the prize. These basic rules apply to both live and online bingo, however most online bingo sites make playing the game a little bit easier by introducing optional features like auto-daub or auto-buy. Auto-daub will automatically mark off the numbers on your ticket as they are called, while auto-buy will purchase the bingo cards for you at the start of each game, allowing you to adjust the number and price of the tickets, as well as the number of games you want to play that way.
Popular Bingo Games
Unlike brick and mortar halls, online bingo sites usually allow you to play numerous variants of the game. Quite obviously, this includes the American 75-ball bingo, as well as the European 90-ball game. Furthermore, online play increased the popularity of relatively new bingo variants like 80-ball bingo and 30-ball speed games, which means that even the most hardened live bingo veterans might be able to find something new to learn.
Tickets and Prizes
Regardless of the bingo variant you pick, the prizes offered in each game have a minimum guaranteed payout, which means that even when the number of players is exceptionally low, you’ll be able to win a worthwhile prize. However, the final payout is ultimately determined by the number of tickets that have been purchased in a given game, which means that playing on the most popular networks allows you to win the most impressive prizes.
Some of the most popular networks offer special progressive jackpot rooms. Each progressive jackpot is initially seeded by the bingo site. Every time a player buys a ticket, a small percentage of its price is added to the jackpot fund. This means that, theoretically speaking, any progressive jackpot can grow indefinitely – but keep in mind that whenever somebody manages to win the main prize, the jackpot is reset back to the seed amount. Furthermore, winning a progressive jackpot is exceptionally hard, as it requires completing a full house within a pre-determined number of calls – usually less than 40 in 75-ball games.
Most bingo sites have been designed with desktop computers, requiring you to download client software or use a browser-based application to join the games. However, the ever-increasing popularity of smartphones has led to the rapid growth of the mobile bingo market over the past few years. This means that whether you own an iPhone, a Blackberry, or an Android smartphone, you won’t have any problems finding sites that offer quality mobile bingo apps for your system.
Playing on a mobile device is very similar to playing on a Windows PC or Mac – the main difference is that you will be using your touch screen instead of your mouse. Furthermore, you have to keep in mind that mobile bingo apps usually come with limited chat functionality, as most mobile players prefer to focus on the game anyway. Finally, please note that the same safety rules apply – if you want your games to be 100% fair, you should generally stick to the most reputable sites.
Bingo Chat Etiquette
As mentioned above, online bingo is a social game, which means that chatting as you play is actively encourage by most bingo sites. Each room is monitored by a Chat Monitor, which means that all players are expected to follow a chat protocol to create a friendly atmosphere. It is somewhat customary to congratulate winning players, but obviously nobody is going to force your hand in this regard. However, please note that rude remarks and offensive language aren’t tolerated, which means that players who repeatedly violate chat protocol risk losing chat privileges or having their account suspended.
Online Bingo Sites
It is estimated that there are more than 500 bingo sites currently available online, which means that finding a good place to play might require a little bit of research. Before you decide to fund your account on a real money site, you should make sure that the games are fair and that the operator won’t delay or prevent your withdrawals. Below, you will find a short list of online bingo sites that are 100% honest about their banking and offer excellent customer support, interesting promotions and packed rooms that allow you to join the action anytime you want.
1. BGO Bingo
Up to £200 Free Bonus
20% Weekly Cash-Back
Low ticket prices
2. 888Ladies Bingo
Great design tailored for female players
£200 First Deposit Bonus with a 200% match
Tried and tested software
Additional bonuses on further deposits
Great mobile app
3. Bet365 Bingo
One of the most reliable brands in the industry
Excellent game selection
£10 Free Play
£20 First Deposit Bonus with a 200% match
Member of the Virtue Fusion Network
4. William Hill Bingo
Trustworthy brand and software
Impressive promotions available for returning customers
250% match First Deposit Bonus up to £20
Member of the Virtue Fusion Network
Multiple exotic bingo games you’ve never heard of
5. Ladbrokes Bingo
Frequent updates to promotions keep things interesting
£50 Bingo Welcome Bundle
Member of the Virtue Fusion Network
Playing for Real Money
Free social bingo applications, like the ones available on Facebook, never really attracted the attention of legislators, but unfortunately the same doesn’t hold true for real money online bingo sites. Consequently, most of the countries that opted to introduce some sort of online gambling laws don’t make any distinction between bingo, poker and casino games, which makes it necessary for bingo enthusiasts to check on their local laws before joining any real money sites.
Online Bingo by Region
Online gambling regulations may differ from country to country and from game to game, which means that some bingo sites and networks might be unavailable for players living in places with particularly restrictive gambling laws. Furthermore, many sites are forced to block players from such countries, which shouldn’t be all that surprising if you consider the fact that most regulators prefer to focus on targeting illegal gambling operators instead of individual players.
The legal status of online bingo in the United States became somewhat complicated after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which made it illegal to transfer any money from banks and other financial institutions to online gambling sites. As a result, many international sites decided to withdraw from the American market and stopped accepting American players, which means that the number of quality bingo sites accessible from within the US is very limited.
Furthermore, each state has different gambling regulations. This means that playing bingo is considered entirely legal in some states, while others treat it as a serious offense. If you aren’t sure about the legal status of online bingo in your state, you should consider contacting a lawyer or checking out a reliable legal resource, such as http://www.gambling-law-us.com/
Even though the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 made it illegal to offer any online gambling services to Australian customers, it is not illegal for Australians to join the action on any online bingo sites. As a result, Australian bingo enthusiasts have no reasons to worry, but unfortunately this also means that we won’t be seeing any Australia-based bingo networks anytime soon.
The French Gambling Act of 2009 made it illegal for online gambling sites to offer their services to France residents without a proper license. Consequently, legal online bingo sites are forced to operate on a fenced national market, which means that traffic will be generally lower than on global networks.
The German Interstate Treaty on Gaming, which came into effect on January 1 2008, makes it illegal to offer any online gambling services in Germany with the exception of horse race betting. As a result, the government is free to order German Internet Service Providers to block any gambling sites and to prevent German banks from allowing any transfers to and from known gambling companies.
Like all other forms of online gambling, online bingo is banned in the state of Maharashtra under the Bombay Wager Act. Furthermore, the Federal Information Technology Laws allow any Indian ISP to block known online bingo websites.
Unfortunately, the recent Russian gambling laws enacted in December 2006 prohibit any form of gambling relying on telecommunications technology.
The United Kingdom loves bingo, so it should come as no surprise that the country has some of the most online bingo-friendly laws in Europe. Consequently, if you’re living in the UK, you don’t have to worry about any legal issues. However, please note that gambling under the age of 18 years is prohibited and that inviting or permitting a minor to gamble is a serious offense.
Depositing & Withdrawing
Most online bingo sites support numerous ways of funding your account, but I recommend sticking to fastest and most reliable solutions, such as e-wallet services, credit cards, debit cards and prepaid cards. Making a deposit using one of these options allows the bingo site to process the transaction in an instant, so you’ll be able to join the Bingo games without any delays.
Some of the most popular credit card brands include Visa, MasterCard, and Amex, but keep in mind that most bingo sites will require your card to be cleared for international transactions. The most popular e-wallet services include PayPal, Neteller, and Skrill. What’s more, a limited number of bingo sites accepts Western Union and MoneyGram payments, so these are also an option if you don’t mind the rather high processing fees.
The vast majority of online bingo sites prefer to handle their withdrawals via e-wallet payments or standard bank wire transfers. However, some of the bigger sites might allow you to cash out via a check by courier or a Western Union/MoneyGram money order. Please note that the latter option is generally the least popular as it requires a lot of effort on the site’s part to process the paperwork.
Finally, please note that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 made it impossible for US-facing websites to support any e-wallet deposits or payouts.
Bonuses and Promotions
Since Bingo is a recreational game, the bonuses you can expect to receive will be considerably lower than in the case of online poker and casino games. Consequently, you shouldn’t expect anything in excess of $200 for a first deposit bonus and reloads. On the bright side, many Bingo sites offer interesting promotions for returning customers. These promotions might not make you considerably richer, but they definitely have the potential to spice up the game. Furthermore, please keep in mind that while most bingo deposit bonuses have no play-through requirement and give you a nice 100% or 200% match on your payment, you’ll usually be required to wager between $10 and $30 before any promotional money will be credited to your account.