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.
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 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:
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:
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."
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:
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.
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:
|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|
|13||Unlucky for Some / Lucky for Some / Baker's Dozen|
|15||Young and Keen|
|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|
|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|
|50||Bulls eye / Five-O Blind Fifty / Halfway House / Hawaii|
|51||Tweak of the Thumb|
|55||Snakes Alive / All the Fives|
|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|
|90||Top of the Shop / Top of the House|
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.