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Bingo Continues to Be a Worldwide Phenomenon

Jul 29, 2008
Bingo is a popular number games where the players cover randomly selected numbers in order to mark off a specific combination. Because of the simplicity of the game, audiences vary from school children to the very elderly. Games can be played freely for entertainment purposes, to raise money for a local charity, or as part of a competition where players pay a small entry fee for a chance at winning a prize.

In the United States, Bingo is typically played for entertainment or educational purposes, such as teaching children to do math or reading, although some organizations using Bingo as a fundraiser. However, the game has a much more significant economic impact in the United Kingdom, where players pay to enter in hopes of winning a large pool money.

The game is enormously successful. It has been speculated that in the United Kingdom, more people attended bingo games than professional football (soccer) games, which is quite remarkable considering the popularity of football in European countries. There are over 600 registered Bingo clubs in the United Kingdom alone.

The American version and the United Kingdom version of the game Bingo are somewhat different, even though the main concept of the game is the same. Each game is played using a marked grid of numbers and randomly selected numbers. However, the grids are formatted differently and the numbers are placed in numerical order in the United Kingdom version.

American players are given a 5x5 grid with several numbers randomly placed throughout the grid; sometimes players are given a "free" box, usually placed in the center of the grid. A person calls out randomly selected numbers, which the players marks if they have on their board. When the player's marked spaces form a specific pattern, they yell out the name of the game, "Bingo!", and their grid card is checked. If the numbers were marked accurately and form one of the specific patterns, then that player is designated the winner.

Typically, the specific winning patterns include five numbers marked in a row vertically, horizontally or diagonally; players may also win if the complete cover their playing grid with selected numbers, called a "blackout".

The United Kingdom version of the grid card contains 27 boxes, created using a grid of nine columns and three rows. Each row typically contains five numbers and four blank spaces. Each column is assigned numbers only between a certain range: 1 through 9 in the first column, 10 through 18 in the second column, all the way the 80 through 90 in the last column.

For this version of Bingo, players win by covering one horizontal line, two lines, or a full house (a covered playing grid, or a blackout).

Although luck is an important part of the games as numbers are randomly called, skill is also an important factor. Players must be able to focus on their board, and quickly take inventory of their grid. If a player misses a called number, they may lose out on a potential winning combination. In addition, if they fail to yell "Bingo" before the next number is called, they forfeit the victory for that combination.

This classic game continues to remain strong, especially in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Expect this trend to continue as players eagerly wait for the next number to be called, whether in anticipation of a large financial windfall or just bragging rights with friends.
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