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Is There a Difference Between British and American Bingo?

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Source: Pixabay

( 28, 2020)--If you asked both an American citizen and a British citizen about the game of bingo, they would both be able to confidently tell you many facets of the game. But, when asked together, there may be moments of confusion as they may feel like what the other is saying doesn’t tally up with what they know themselves. That’s because – unbeknownst to many – there are several differences between the American and the British games of bingo. Whether this is the forms of bingo that can be played on either side of the Atlantic or the way in which the gameplay unravels, the age-old game differs depending on whether you are in Gloucester City, New Jersey, or the city of Gloucester in the South West of England. So, what are the differences between UK and US bingo?

The clientele for bingo differs in the UK and USA. In the USA, bingo is played in casinos or Native American-run establishments that have licenses, whereas, in the UK, bingo games can be found more casually. Private parties, community groups, and church halls have been known to run bingo games. British bingo features 90 balls, with cards featuring numbers of each set of 10 laid out in nine columns. The American version features 75 balls instead. Anecdotally, Americans play more competitively, sometimes furiously dabbing multiple sheets, while the Brits who play in church halls are often teased for bringing their dabbers from home.

The British version of the game was played extensively by the forces and was a popular game that was easy to set up and run and could account for the vast amount of people who wanted to play. In America, it was known as ‘beano’ because of the beans that were used to mark off the numbers. A toy salesman, Edwin Lowe (who alsocreated Yahtzee), overheard someone’s malapropism of calling out ‘bingo’ when they won, so decided to create sets and sell them using this name. The American version has the letters BINGO spelled out across the header and the numbers that win should correspond to these letters.


Source: Pixabay

When the numbers are being called out, they are heavily slanted towards the Brits. For example, bingo numbers are often based around rhyming couplets – similar to Cockney rhyming slang – that focus on Britain, such as cup of tea (3), Boris’s den (10 – changed according to the current resident of 10 Downing Street), Danny La Rue (42), Brighton Line (59), and Torquay in Devon (87). These rhymes often have a British perspective and go all the way up to 90, which wouldn’t exist in American games. The fact that British bingo utilizes comedic rhymes attests to the more laidback nature of playing the game. There is time to reflect on the comedy of the rhymes without just moving on to the next number being called.

Essentially, the difference between American and British bingo is minimal. Playing one version means you are adept at playing the other version. The nuances of the game may take some getting used to, but both versions of the game focus on the same gameplay that explains bingo’s wide appeal.