Bingo, or tambola as it is also known, is one of the oldest gambling games around. Invented in Italy way back in the 1500s, it became popular in the UK in the 19th century and, a little like cricket and afternoon tea, found its way to India during colonial times.
While the name tambola stuck in India, the game is called bingo in the rest of the world. Regardless of what you call it or where you play it, the game became mostly associated with older players in the late 20th century. Indeed, to this day, it is played for nominal stakes in care homes or at senior clubs and community centres across the world.
The rise of online bingo
Given the perceived profile of the average bingo player, taking it online might not seem such a great idea. After all, while it’s true that more people do more things online than ever in 2022, there are fewer internet savvy over-70s than younger generations. However, over in the bingo heartlands of the UK, gaming companies looked at the dwindling number of players turning up at traditional bingo halls and decided to roll the dice on promoting online bingo.
They made an interesting discovery. Younger generations who would not necessarily follow their grandparents into a bingo hall were surprisingly enthusiastic about finding out how to play bingo online, especially when the providers threw a little extra marketing budget towards the bingo-curious millennials. For example, when one UK bingo brand decided to use Heather Graham in a fox suit for its marketing campaign a few years ago, it was plain to see that it was not targeting old ladies in their 70s and 80s!
How to play bingo
If you’ve yet to be swept up by the bingo – or tombola – hype, you might reasonably ask the question of what it is all about. There’s nothing complicated about bingo, and like roulette in the casino, it is all down to chance, there is no skill or strategy involved.
When you join a bingo game, you are given a 5×5 grid containing 25 random numbers between one and 90. Numbered balls are then drawn at random, a little like the Lotto, and if one of yours comes up, you mark it off on your bingo card. The winner is the first player in the game to mark off a straight line of five, either vertically, horizontally or diagonally.
Some players play multiple cards – in a real bingo hall, this can be a sight to behold, with elderly ladies somehow keeping track of a dozen cards at once! There are also different online bingo variations that have fewer balls or different sized grids. However, the game itself is unchanged, and these variations only really affect the speed of play.
Bingo is fun, it’s simple and it gives you the opportunity to win a little money if you get lucky. No wonder so many new players are giving it a try!