What’s the Difference Between American and British Bingo?

Bingo / Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

For long-term players and newcomers alike, you might not know the difference between the different forms of bingo across the world, or even know that there are differences at all! The biggest difference, since we (mostly) speak the same language, is between bingo in the US and UK, which have significantly different forms and styles of play. So, to clear up any confusion and prepare you for your next intercontinental game of bingo, I’m here with some handy info to help you understand the differences in the game. 

UK – 90 Ball Game 

Okay then, first of all, let’s cover the standard type of bingo that is played in the UK – 90 ball games.  

In 90 ball bingo, a card is split into 3 rows of numbers running horizontally across the card with each row containing 5 numbers. Each ticket has a total of 15 numbers, with no repetitions on the same card- which means you only have to look for a number one. 

Traditionally games of 90 ball bingo are played in three phases with three defined winners. The first to complete a row, the first to complete two rows and then the first to complete an entire card. Depending on where you are playing, the winner of each of these phases may receive a prize which will generally increase in value from phase to phase. 

US – 75 Ball Game 

Now that you (hopefully) have an understanding of how the UK game works, let’s take a look at how they do things across the pond – 75 ball games. 

Unlike in 90 ball bingo, the US version does not have distinct rows of the card and instead consists of 25 squares with 24 numbers (the square in the centre is “free”. The numbers fall into 5 columns, under the letters B-I-N-G-O, with each letter having a range of numbers associated (B is 1-15, I is 16-30 etc.).  

It’s not just the layout of the card that is different – the styles of play and methods of winning in 75 ball bingo are also distinct from the UK variant. Without defined rows to play across, 75 ball bingo is played with patterns. A pattern is defined at the start of the game, this will usually be some variant of a star, line or box that will be assembled with the numbers on the card. The goal then is to be the first to complete this shape. 75 ball game is also often played to full coverage, where all the numbers are needed to win. Full coverage and patterns can be combing to make a multi-phase game, but this will differ from location to location. 

What’s Better? 

It should be pretty evident by this point that there are some significant differences between the UK and US varieties of bingo, but does that mean one is better than the other?  

Well….no, like most things it is down to a matter of taste. 

90 ball bingo can be much faster and intense. With defined phases of play there comes a clear rhythm to the game, with prizes to break up gameplay.  

On the other hand, 75 ball games are much more relaxed affairs, that also have the capacity to increase in complexity when that is wanted. 

Neither form of the game is clearly better than the other, so I can only suggest that you go out and play a bit of both to find exactly what you like the most. Most bingo halls in the UK will only have 90 ball games running, but you can look at the online bingo sites to try your hand at 75 ball games. Some sites even have promotions running, so you can get the absolute best from playing bingo online – no matter which game type you play. 

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