The Difference Between British and American Bingo


The Difference Between British and American Bingo


A bingo cage filled with bingo balls.

The Difference Between British and American Bingo


A bingo cage filled with bingo balls.

Bingo has been around since the 1920s, making it one of the oldest casino games you can play online today. It’s become a massive industry in the US and Britain, and although the game is roughly the same across the two countries, there are a few important differences in the way it’s played.

How Do American and British Bingo Compare?

In the US, the game of choice is usually 75-ball bingo, which is played on cards with 5×5 squares and includes a selection of numbers from 1 to 75. The main difference is in the letters B-I-N-G-O at the top of the card and the fact that the numbers called will have to fit into a specific column, row or line, depending on the winning pattern. (The US version is played in vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines, as well as other shapes – it all depends on the specific game.)

The main game played in the UK, referred to as “British bingo,” is played with 90 balls numbered between 1 and 90. It’s not that difficult to learn how to play British bingo. The game is played on a card with three rows of nine squares, which means it’s played across horizontal lines only.

Whether you play online or at a brick-and-mortar hall using physical cards, the rules remain the same.

How Did These Differences Come About?

There are various examples and theories behind how the differences came into effect. One is that they developed during the early twentieth century when British or 90-ball bingo was adopted by the armed forces (eventually being dubbed “beano” in the US due to the beans that were used to mark off numbers.) From here the game grew into what is now known as 75-ball bingo.

On the other side of the pond, the 90-ball game was brought home by the armed forces in the UK and it grew in popularity in the post-war period. The rise of the game in the US – versus housie/beano in the UK – as well as the changing laws, had a direct role in reviving the game. As gambling laws were relaxed and more halls opened, the game grew in popularity and remains popular to this day. 

How To Play 75-Ball Bingo

As mentioned before, the favored game in the US is the 75-ball variant. Once you’ve wrapped your head around it, what seems like a more complicated game is actually quite simple.

Each 5×5 card is divided into 25 squares, 24 of which contain one of the numbers from 1 to 75. 

The middle square is a free space and can be marked off immediately (if it isn’t already as part of the card’s design.) Each number in the five columns corresponds to a letter placed at the top of the card: B-I-N-G-O – e.g. B7, I25, N31, G56 and O66.

A close-up of a 75-ball bingo card.

Each ticket (or card) has a unique ticket number. In the 75-ball version, a “strip” is a group of three tickets. Every number from 1 through 75 will appear on a full strip. You may purchase a total of six strips for each game, giving you a total of 18 tickets.

Possible patterns in this version are virtually endless. In addition to horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, the numbers can complete various shapes, such as an airplane, the letter P, the letter O, a bow tie or just the four corner spots. American bingo calls tend to be fairly straightforward, unlike their British counterparts. 

How To Play 90-Ball Bingo

For 90-ball games, tickets are sold in groups of six, called a strip, with all numbers from 1 to 90 featured. As the title indicates, 90 differently numbered balls can be drawn in this game, which means the game can take longer to play than the US version. As mentioned, this 9×3 card contains three rows and nine columns, giving players a total of 27 positions.

The first column features numbers from 1 to 10, the second numbers from 11 to 20 and so on, up until the ninth column, which features numbers from 81 to 90. Each ticket or card has 15 numbers for players to mark off. There are five numbers as well as four empty squares per row. There are only three possible ways to win in 90-ball bingo, but this doesn’t mean the game is boring. The winning options are marking off one complete line of numbers, marking off two lines, and getting a “full house,” which is when you get all three lines – effectively all the numbers on a ticket.

One gameplay difference is that British bingo calls often include interesting, rhyming slang terms for the different numbers. For example, when calling the number 5 it’s called “man alive.” Here’s an explanation of bingo slang if you’d like to know more.

Why Is Bingo Popular?

An American bingo card with bingo markers.

Bingo is fun, engaging and competitive. In the US, it tends to be much more competitive and intense, whereas in the UK the approach is more relaxed, despite the faster pace of the game. In America, we often play with more cards – sometimes up to 30 cards at one time – and our halls are often equipped with TV monitors for easy viewing of the cards.

Where Does Online Bingo Fit In?

Online bingo games have been around for a few years now. In fact, you’ll find that most sites offer a choice of British and American bingo versions, plus many other emerging variants. Due to its ease of play and excitement, the game has exploded in the online gaming space. Many people prefer to play online instead of visiting a hall, which means it’s an ideal activity for a night in or a day out.

Which Version Is Better?

There’s no “better” or “worse” game between the two – the right one for you is the game you enjoy the most. Certain people love the fast-paced thrill of playing the 90-ball game, while others enjoy the complexity that comes with handling multiple cards at once. But whether players prefer playing online or at a land-based venue, it’s the overall thrill of playing the game that will keep them coming back time and again.

Interesting Variants You May Not Have Heard Of

Speed Bingo

Speed Bingo is a thrilling, fast-paced variation of traditional bingo. Played with just 30 balls and a 3×3 bingo card, it’s a rapid game that typically concludes within minutes. The goal is similar: mark all the numbers on your card as they’re called out. 

However, due to fewer numbers and fewer squares, this version requires heightened attention and swift marking. Ideal for those seeking quick, adrenaline-fueled gameplay, Speed Bingo can be played more frequently due to its shorter duration. Often featured on online platforms, it’s a perfect choice for bingo enthusiasts looking for a fun, intense and swift twist on their favorite game.

Death Bingo

Death Bingo adds an interesting twist to traditional bingo. Instead of racing to mark off numbers, players aim to avoid their numbers being called. Each number drawn brings the threat of elimination, injecting suspense into every call. Essentially, it’s a game of survival, the winner being the last player standing whose numbers haven’t been called out. 

Picture Frame Bingo

Picture Frame Bingo adds an artistic slant to the game. Instead of filling an entire card or a straight line, players aim to cover the outer squares of their bingo card, forming a “picture frame.” This variant can be played with any bingo type, be it 75, 80 or 90-ball. It’s a visually stimulating and engaging game that requires strategic play to achieve the picture frame pattern. 

U-Pick ‘Em Bingo

U-Pick ‘Em Bingo allows players to choose their own numbers on the bingo card, much like a lottery. This personalized variation lets players choose their lucky numbers or follow specific number patterns. The objective remains the same: to mark off your chosen numbers as they’re called. The added control and involvement that U-Pick ‘Em Bingo offers injects a refreshing change to the traditional gameplay.

Horse Racing Bingo

Horse Racing Bingo brings the thrill of horse racing to bingo. Each player, up to 15, gets assigned a number from 1 to 15, each corresponding to the top row of the bingo flashboard. Numbers are rapidly drawn and announced, resembling the swift pace of an actual horse race. The ultimate goal is to have all your designated numbers called out first. The winner is the first one to achieve this and call “Bingo!”

Play the Best Online Bingo Games at Borgata Bingo

At Borgata Bingo, players can try their luck on a range of exciting games, including the classic 75-ball and 90-ball bingo games, as well as jackpot slots, Slingo and many more exciting titles. See what incredible gameplay is on offer when you play online bingo. Download the app via iOS or Android or register online to join the party at Borgata Bingo. 
Bingo not your thing? No problem. Take a bash at online poker and hone your game with the host of interesting resources available at Borgata online. From tips on how to set a successful poker tournament strategy to misconceptions about poker players, you’ll have everything to set you on your poker journey.