What is Bingo?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Bingo is a game often played with a large number of people in halls or other venues. People are either given or purchase cards of 5 X 5 grids that have 25 total numbers on them. Each grid section has a number that is usually paired with letters that run across the top of the grid. A caller pulls out cards or uses balls to randomly pick each number. The players mark their spaces if they have the letter/number combination on their grid card. The goal of the game is to be the first to get five numbers in a row, horizontally, vertically or diagonally. When a person gets the five numbers, he or she shouts out “BINGO” and may be rewarded with prizes or money, or simply the satisfaction of winning.

Woman posing
Woman posing

Although it can be played as a child’s game, bingo is much more common as a gambling game used to earn money for charitable organizations. Many churches offer bingo nights once weekly, and some players attend these more religiously than they do Sunday services. People often purchase more than one grid card for each game to increase their chances of winning. In this setting, winners usually receive money if they are the first to get a bingo, and can call it out before someone else does.

Since bingo is a popular game, there are now numerous Internet gambling sites that offer some variation of the game. These games can include automated features, which mark cards when numbers are displayed on the screen. Some dedicated players who enjoy the social nature of bingo nights find Internet versions a poor replacement.

Types of bingo have been played since the 16th century, and have also spawned the lotto. Unlike bingo, lotto numbers don’t have to form a line on any sort of grid for people to win. Most lotto players win by simply having all numbers called for the lotto draw.

Within gaming, another definition of bingo exists. In Scrabble™, when a player is able to use all seven tiles in one word, he or she has scored a bingo. Finding one and being able to play multiple such words during Scrabble™ games significantly increases a player's score, since each is awarded an additional 50 points.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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