Bingo (UK)

Bingo (UK)

Bingo, Housey Housey (United Kingdom) or Housie (New Zealand and Australia) is a gambling game of unknown origin. Players mark off numbers on a ticket as they are randomly called out, in order to achieve a winning combination.

It is not to be confused with the similar American game Bingo, as the tickets and the calling are slightly different.

Description of the game

A typical housie/bingo ticket is shown to the right. It contains twenty-seven spaces, arranged in nine columns by three rows. Each row contains five numbers and four blank spaces. Each column contains either one, two, or very rarely three, numbers:

  • The first column contains numbers from 1 to 9,
  • The second column numbers from 10 to 19,
  • The third 20 to 29 and so on up until the last column, which contains numbers from 80 to 90 (the 90 being placed in this column as well).

The game is presided over by a caller, whose job it is to call out the numbers and validate winning tickets. He will announce the prize or prizes for each game before starting.The caller will then usually say "Eyes down" to indicate that he is about to start. He then begins to call numbers as they are randomly selected, either by an electronic Random Number Generator (RNG), by drawing counters from a bag or by using balls in a mechanical draw machine. Calling takes the format of simple repetition in the framework, "Both the fives, fifty five", or "Two and three, twenty three."

The different winning combinations are:

  • Line — covering a horizontal line of five numbers on the ticket.
  • Two Lines — Covering any two lines on the same ticket.
  • Full House — covering all fifteen numbers on the ticket.
    • In New Zealand in bonus (Super Housie) games, often three lines may be claimed - top, middle and bottom, usually with much larger prizes, are also played at various times throughout the session.
    • In the UK, however, it is most common for a line game to be followed directly by a two line game and a full house game, or just by a full house game.
    • In the UK's National Bingo Game only a full house game is ever played. The record payout for the national bingo game was £950,000 and was won by a lucky customer from Gala Sheffield Parkway.
    • In all cases, the last number called must be in the winning sequence. If you do not stop the game in time, beware, because if the caller starts the next number, your claim will be deemed invalid!

When players first come to the venue (often a church hall, rugby club or other place with sufficient tables and chairs, including in the UK many specifically designed bingo clubs) they can buy a book of tickets. Players generally play between one and six books. In New Zealand a book usually contains fifty tickets which are played over the course of the night. In UK bingo clubs, playing is divided into sessions with different books, each with a designated number of pages. Players in the UK usually prefer to buy books of six tickets containing all possible numbers in different combinations.

As each number is called, players check to see if that number appears on their tickets. If it does, they will mark it with a special marker called a "dabber" or a "dauber", shown here. When all the numbers required to win a prize have been marked off, the player calls out "Line" or "House" depending on the prize, and an official or member of staff will come and check the claim:

  • In the UK with the increasing computerization of bingo systems, an Auto-Validate system is often used in large clubs where a 1 to 8 digit security code is read out by a member of staff and checked against the entry for that ticket on the system. This saves the club from the time-consuming exercise of reading out every number on the ticket.
  • In smaller clubs, however, each number in the winning combination must be read out. The caller will check to see if each number has been called, and if it has, he will say something similar to "House correct - please pay out".

There will often be an interval halfway through the game. In Australia and New Zealand Super Housie tickets are played and raffles (if there are any) are drawn. In UK bingo halls it is most common for Mechanised Cash Bingo to be played (see below).

Chris Lamb, duty manager from Gala Bingo Nottingham Castle, says "Electronic gaming is now taking another step forward with the introduction of P.E.T (programmable electronic tickets), that allows customers to play many more tickets on a small hand-held terminal, connected to the caller via wi-fi."

Business aspect

In New Zealand and Australia, housie is often used a fund raiser by churches, sports teams, and other groups, and raffles are sold before the game.

Bingo, which used to be known as Housey Housey in the United Kingdom, is an expanding and highly profitable business, with many companies competing for the customers' money. It too is often organised by churches, charities and social and sports clubs as a way to raise funds.

The three largest companies with bingo halls in the United Kingdom are:

  • Gala Bingo (Gala Group Ltd.)
  • Mecca Bingo Ltd. (part of The Rank Group plc)
  • Riva Bingo (also has clubs under the company names of Beacon Bingo, Hippodrome Bingo & Heaton Bingo (part of Riva Gaming )

In Northern Ireland, one of the largest bingo club groups is the Planet Bingo Group, with seven clubs in the following towns/cities:

There are three clubs in the city of Belfast; Galaxy Bingo at the Yorkgate Shopping Centre, which is the Head Office, Star Bingo, and Planet Belfast, a.k.a. 321 Club due to its address; 321 Newtownards Road.

Online Bingo is also becoming increasingly popular with many different companies launching sites including Ladbrokes, The Sun, and Ascot Bingowhich is the first online bingo company in the world to offer live and interactive "in-vision" callers.

As well as offering the familiar Housie/Bingo played by marking numbered books, most large clubs have their tables modified for the playing of Cash Housie or Mechanised Cash Bingo [Parti Bingo] (using coin slots or, increasingly in the 21st century, an electronic credit system). This is highly profitable for the operator, with a typical "take" of fifty percent of the stake.

Mechanised cash bingo differs from paper bingo, because it is played on a plastic bingo board, that is 4x4 square, and split up into four columns of colours. The customer chooses when they want to play, and insert a credit into a coin slot. The company involved will then use a computer (called a stage rig controller) to automatically take a "participation fee" which is set by the operator (usually between 40% and 60%). The rest of the credit is then put into the prize pool to be played for. There are only 80 numbers in play. The numbers are called a lot faster by the caller (usually around 1.5 seconds a number) and when a customer has a winning combination they press a claim button to stop the game. This is profitable for the operator as the games are so fast, and a huge parfee can be made in a few minutes. Winning combinations are usually any line down, across, diagonal, four corners or four centre squares.

In Northern Ireland bingo clubs, where the laws governing bingo games are different than in England, Scotland and Wales, it is common, when playing "parti bingo" for the caller to announce that a position or "card" has won, and ending the game, without the participation of the person playing. This enables the customer to play more positions in hope of a better chance of winning.

Calling nicknames (UK Bingo)

In New Zealand, calling nicknames are not used as much as in the UK, but here are some of the more common ones. When calling, the caller will usually say both digits on their own first, and then the number itself, for example, "Three and two, thirty-two". Some callers will use many of these slang terms, others just a few. However, "Kelly's Eye", "Legs Eleven" and "Top of the Shop" are often used, even if none of the others are. See section below for usage:

Number Slang Expression
1 Kelly's Eye / On its Own / At the Beginning / Start the Game / Number one, just begun
2 One Little Duck
3 Cup of Tea / One Little Flea / My little Fly / Dixie Lee
4 Knock at the Door
5 Man Alive / Jack's alive
6 Just a Click / chopsticks
7 Lucky for Some / hope in heaven
8 One Fat Lady / The Garden Gate
9 Doctor's Orders ("Number 9 pill")
10 Gordon's Den (forename of current prime minister) / Big Ben / cock and hen / Downing Street
11 Chicken Legs / Legs Eleven
12 One Dozen
13 Unlucky for Some / Lucky for Some / Baker's Dozen
14 Valentines Day
15 Young and Keen
16 Sweet Sixteen
17 Never Been Kissed
20 Two-O Blind Twenty
21 Key of the Door
22 Two Little Ducks (Often the players will respond with "Quack quack!") / All the Twos / Dinky Doo
23 Thee and Me
24 Two Dozen
26 (Two and Six) Half a Crown / Pick and Mix / Bed and Breakfast
27 Duck and a Crutch / Gateway to Heaven
28 In a State
30 Three-O Blind Thirty / Dirty Gertie
33 Come in For Ya Tea / All the Threes / Feathers
37 More Than Eleven
38 You're Late! / Top Date!
39 All the Steps (From the novel The Thirty-Nine Steps)
40 Four-O Blind Forty / Over the Hill
44 Droopy Drawers / All the Fours
45 Halfway There
50 Bulls eye / Five-O Blind Fifty / Halfway House / Hawaii
51 Tweak of the Thumb
55 Snakes Alive / All the Fives
57 Heinz Varieties
59 The Brighton Line
60 Six-O Blind Sixty
64 Red Raw / Knock on the Door / You're Poor / Cat's Paw
65 Old Age Pension
66 Clickety-Click / All the Sixes
69 Any Way Up / Dinner for Two / Any Way You Look At It
70 Seven-O Blind Seventy
71 Bang on the Drum
76 Is She Worth It? (Often "Every penny!" is called back from the players) / Trombones
77 All the Sevens / Seventy Plus Seven
79 One More Time / Seventy Plus Nine
80 Eight-O Blind Eighty
81 Stop and Run / Cinnamon Bun
86 Between the Sticks
88 Two Fat Ladies / All the Eights
89 Almost There
90 Top of the Shop / Top of the House
There is at least one nickname for each bingo number called.

Usage of Bingo nicknames in the UK

Since the introduction of the electronic Random Number Generator (RNG) in Bingo Halls in the UK, the usage of the nicknames above in mainstream Bingo has dramatically decreased. Bingo with an electronic RNG is much less time consuming and it has been discovered that replacing the nicknames with a simple repetition (in the pattern "All the fives, fifty five" or "Two and four, twenty four"), has allowed bingo halls to focus on the more lucrative business of Mechanised Cash Bingo (MCB), known in Gala Bingo Clubs as Party Bingo, Mecca Bingo Clubs as Cashline & most independent clubs refer to it as either the two previously mentioned names or 'table top' (relating to the fact that the boards are usually built into the table in front of the player) or 'Mini Cash Bingo'.

It is perhaps nostalgic to note that the usage of these nicknames tends to be greater where the focus of playing bingo is upon fun rather than big business; this includes British holiday resort chains such as Haven, British Holidays and Pontins, and also church halls, social clubs etc.

See also


External links

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