There are now loads of different formats of bingo to choose from. Traditionalists will still prefer to play the two original forms of the game. The British and European side of the Atlantic (I’d better name both in these days post the Brexit referendum) generally opts for the 90 Ball version, while the other side of the pond prefer their 75 Ball variant. Both are usually available on bingo sites aimed at United Kingdom based players. Other forms of bingo are widely available. The vast Live Bingo Network’s team of sites also offers 80 and 50 ball varieties of the game, and many other sites also offer some unique and exclusive formats.
All of these formats have been around for some time, but when it comes to creating new and innovative forms of the game, there are in fact quite a few restrictions. The most obvious issue is that there are some stringent rules and regulations which define what bingo is, and what it must be. To gain a licence to offer online bingo to UK based players, site operators must satisfy the industry’s regulatory body, the UK Gambling Commission. This body enforces a precise definition of what bingo is: the 1978 Royal Commission Report specified that “Bingo is a lottery played as a game”, and separated it from casino games, for which operators must apply for a different licence.
The Report also specified that “bingo must be played as an equal chance game” “Bingo must involve a degree of participation” and that “Bingo games must have a clearly defined end point”. A further clarification was issued in 2009, but this was largely concerned with new bingo machines, rather than the type of bingo played in halls or online. Given all these parameters, games designers and innovators do face considerable restrictions which they have to abide by to continue to call a game “Bingo”. Nevertheless, designers have been able to be quite creative when it comes to designing new and imaginative forms of the game.
The first new format, which has been around for so long now, it has become almost as standard as the original 90 and 75 Ball forms. “Speed” bingo is on offer on many sites. Often also referred to as Swedish” bingo, it is, as the nickname implies, a much faster form Bingo, with games reaching the Commissions “clearly defined end point” much more swiftly than the more traditional versions. It certainly suits players looking for a faster pace, and has become very popular as a “modern” alternative.
But two more recent designs have also burst upon the bingo scene, which are really attracting those players who are looking for something different. The first of these is “Slingo”. This is a kind of hybrid of slots and bingo. In a way, this name is a kind of a sneaky way of getting round the Commission’s rules. It clearly sounds like bingo, but does not use the word, so it can avoid the Commissions censure.
In this game, you play with a bingo card, which has 25 numbers on it. These numbers are arranged in five rows of five numbers. However, instead of numbers being called in turn in the conventional manner, there is a row of numbers at the bottom of the card which you spin, like on a five reel slot. If these numbers match, you can mark them off on the card, just like bingo. Basically, you have up to twenty “spins” to cover all the patterns or numbers on your card. There are some other features which are more like you find on slots: like special characters called Jokers or Devils, which either add to, or reduce your chances of winning. This game is becoming very popular, and is well worth a try for players looking for something new to try.
Meanwhile, another variation on the traditional game has started to appear. This time, instead of a hybrid bingo / slot game, it is playing cards which replace the traditional bingo numbers. This 52 “ball” game is pretty much played the same way as bingo, but instead of numbers, each bingo card consists of five playing cards. The caller then announces playing cards drawn randomly from the 52 card pack. If they appear on your ticket, they are marked. The first player to cover all 5 playing cards on a ticket then wins the game. This game can be played at Blighty Bingo and you can buy up to five tickets for each game.
So despite all the rules and regulations, games designers are coming up with new forms of the game. Why not add a bit of variety to your bingo sessions and give them a try?