How Bingo Took an Unbreakable Hold on the UK

    The basic concept of bingo, drawing random numbers to fill out a card, goes back centuries into central Europe, and bingo as a game is enjoyed around the world by people in their millions. However, in only one country has bingo evolved and grown to the status of a national pastime, and that is in the UK. The British have embraced the game like no other population, so what is it that has caused such popularity?

    The State of British Bingo

    As it stands, bingo in the UK alone has a value in the hundreds of millions of pounds each year. It is easily one of the most popular wager-based games in the country, whether it’s in the form of casual community games or the more intensive huge bingo halls. It has also managed to thrive moving into the digital era where many other traditional games have dropped off the map. Like a lot of similar games, bingo is now an online pastime with digital game versions being created all the time. British bingo lovers are just as likely to be playing something like Paddy Power bingo for free on their smartphones as they are to go to a bingo hall on the high street. Playing on a mobile site like this opens up a world of different game types and themes to players, too.


    The technology hop also means that it has survived the generational gap where British classics like cribbage and bridge have not. You can certainly find those from the millennial generation keeping those games alive on some scale, but the numbers pale in comparison.

    Was Bingo a British Creation?

    Despite being the biggest home of bingo in the world at this point, Britain has very little to do with the origins of bingo as a game. It is currently believed to have started as a kind of lottery in Italy over 500 years ago, although there are suggestions that a very similar game emerged in China even further back. It didn’t make it to Britain until sometime in the 18th Century, and even the name itself is unclear with some historians giving it a British origin and some linking it to Atlanta in the United States.

    Originally called housey-housey in the UK for unknown reasons, although likely linked to bingo terms house and full house, the game took off on a massive scale in the 1960s. For over 40 years, new bingo halls popped up constantly across the country and became a staple of the British high street as well as focal points for local communities. The process only started to slow a little with the advent of the digital age in the mid-2000’s.

    What Is the Future of Bingo in Britain?

    Despite being a relatively simple game, it hasn’t stopped anyone in the UK from expanding on the concept. Most of these don’t tinker with the main game itself but instead focus on the presentation around it much like the global equivalents like those in Las Vegas. Bingo rave events are now becoming more and more popular, combining bingo games with live music and an almost festival-like atmosphere complete with refreshments and bonus prizes.

    Beyond that, you also get the case of venues like Hijingo which have taken bingo in an entirely different direction. Complete with effects that feel pulled straight out of a futuristic sci-fi world, and hosts with elaborate costumes and performances to match, it is sold far more as an experience than just a place to play a game. It turns the entire thing into something resembling a game show.

    It’s safe to say that, more than anywhere else, bingo is going to remain a staple feature of British culture for a very long time, no matter what form it happens to end up in.

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