Bingo balls in a wheel

What Are the Rules of Bingo and How Long Do Games Last?

Bingo is a very popular game of chance that is played in casinos, retirement homes, charity events and in specially designated bingo halls. Even those who have little interest in other gambling games haven’t just heard of bingo, but may well have played it extensively. Part of the fun of it is the social nature of the game, but a large part is also just how simple it is to play. 

Here’s how it works.


The Rules of Bingo


  • Players buy or receive one or many bingo cards.
  • Each card is made up of a grid of numbers.
  • There are five rows and five columns on a card
  • Most bingo cards contain random numbers from 1 to 75
  • Each number can only appear once on a card 
  • The bingo croupier picks numbers from a bingo machine, one at at time, and calls them out
  • If the player has the number called on one or many of their bingo card(s), they cross it out or mark it
  • If the player ends up with five matching numbers marked out on their card in a row, they shout out bingo to win the prize
  • Those rows of numbers can be vertically, horizontally or diagonally


These are the basic rules of bingo that apply wherever you play it and in whatever format. This includes live online bingo games and online bingo games where you play against the computer (though you don’t actually shout bingo in either case). The only betting you do in bingo, it’s worth pointing out, is when you buy one or many bingo cards. Cards are normally sold at a flat rate, though some venues might offer bulk offers. Players can usually buy multiple bingo cards at once, but in any sort of live game, it’s simply impractical to buy more than you can keep your eyes on at once. In digital bingo games, though, you can buy as many cards as you want as it will mark the numbers off for you. 


Etiquette and Some Basic Facts

Beyond the basic rules, and they really are basic, there are a number of general facts to keep in mind when playing bingo, as well as simple rules of etiquette to make each game as enjoyable for everyone as possible. These mostly apply to real-world bingo games, though, but it doesn’t particularly matter whether you’re playing at a bingo hall or at a charity event.


The basic facts, first:


  • Bingo games last for however long it takes for one of the players to yell bingo.
  • There’s no such thing as a bingo game that doesn’t end with someone winning. This is another big reason why it’s so popular.
  • Though each game varies in length, a bingo event would usually last between three and four hours.
  • There are no tricks to increasing your chance of winning at bingo and no skill involved whatsoever.
  • It is, however, a fairly controlled form of gambling as there’s no such thing as raising stakes, bingo events or sessions only last so long with each game usually taking a fair amount of time. You also can’t really buy as many cards as you want as it’s impossible to actually play with more than a handful of them at once. 
  • Even in states where gambling is generally illegal, Native American casinos are still allowed to operate by offering bingo games – and, in fact, they even have “slot machines” that look like normal slot machines but are actually hooked up to ongoing bingo games.


As for rules of etiquette, most of this is pretty self-explanatory, but they’re still worth keeping in mind.


  • Bingo is a social game, but some players take it very seriously so be sure to not disturb them if you can see they’re particularly engrossed in the game.
  • Don’t get up and walk around while a game is ongoing. You will normally get a few minutes between individual games to stretch your legs, get something to eat or go to the bathroom.
  • Listen carefully so you don’t miss any of the numbers when they’re called out.
  • Don’t talk so loud or so incessantly that others won’t be able to hear the numbers, especially when playing with older players.
  • It’s very easy for two or more players to get bingo at the same time, which is why it is so important to shout out “BINGO!” as loudly and as clearly as possible.
  • In the case of two or more players shouting it out at the same time, the host will decide who actually got that bingo first and respect their decisions.


With these simple rules and facts in mind you should be good to go. You have to be over 18 to play bingo in whichever form, but other than that it’s the closest that gambling comes to being a relaxed family activity that is as easy to play as it is to enjoy.

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