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The Many Faces of Bingo Around The World

Bingo is an incredibly popular game in the United Kingdom. If you haven’t played it yourself, you surely know someone who does; some statistics say that 1 in 5 Scots play bingo, for example. But our country isn’t the only one to embrace bingo. It should come as no surprise that bingo is beloved all over the world.

Enduring Popularity in Its Birthplace

It’s generally agreed that the modern game of bingo evolved from a 16th century Italian game called Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia. This game involved drawing numbers from a barrel of 90 balls, just like bingo is still played in the UK and many other countries.

Today, there are over 300 bingo halls in Italy, and the game is proving popular with the younger generation, suggesting that it’s in no danger of falling out of favour any time soon. Italians can also play bingo online if they don’t want to go down to the bingo hall.

90 vs 75 Ball Bingo

In the UK, we play bingo with 90 balls. However, in the US, most bingo games have only 75 balls. This is one of the biggest differences between bingo games around the world. Each country seems to have a preference for either the 90 ball version, or the 75 ball version, although in some countries both are available. If you want to play bingo when abroad, you may want to do some research ahead of time to see which variant is most common -- and perhaps familiarise yourself with the local bingo calls, which may also be very different!

Bingo as an Educational Tool

When bingo was first introduced to Germany near the end of the 19th century, they discovered a clever use for the game. Teachers used bingo cards to teach children letters, numbers, and multiplication.

In the 21st century, bingo can still be used as an educational tool. If you’re trying to learn a new language, bingo is a very fun way to practice your numbers. Spanish-language students can even practice some common nouns by playing the popular bingo-like game lotería, which uses colorful illustrated cards.

Different Ways to Play Bingo

The most common traditional way to play bingo has been to go down to the local bingo hall. Depending on where you live, that might be an independent business, or it might be held in a club lodge, or even in a church -- in the US, the Catholic church frequently uses bingo nights as a fundraiser! There are many other fun ways to play bingo, however. Another popular location for bingo is the bar -- some LGBTQ+ bars even offer drag queen bingo, where queens with colourful personalities take on the role of bingo caller.

If you’re on our site, you’re already familiar with the possibilities offered by online bingo, which can allow you to have the social experience of a bingo game from home or wherever else you are. Online bingo is especially popular in countries like Japan and Brazil, where physical bingo games are not allowed but online gambling is.

In Russia, some players enjoy TV bingo. Similar to watching a lottery draw on TV, this televised event features a caller declaring the numbers while players follow along at home.

Looking to get out of the house? In Sweden, there’s a unique game called “drive-in bingo”. Players gather together in their cars, with the calls broadcast over loudspeakers. If you’ve won, you honk your horn. It’s a fun hybrid of the bingo hall and the drive-in movie theatre.

There’s No Wrong Way to Play Bingo

It’s no wonder that such a beloved game has inspired so many variants around the world. However you play, there’s fun to be had, and excitement, whether you shout “bingo” or “housie” or give a toot of your horn.