How to play bingo: the rules explained

We break down how to play bingo - one of Britain's most-loved games

Two woman sitting at a table in a bingo hall
(Image credit: AFP via Getty Images)

Wondering how to play bingo? We break down the rules of bingo for you. Eyes down, daubers at the ready!

Modern bingo, the game of chance, was invented decades ago (opens in new tab) and has been loved for generations. Over three million Brits play at least twice a week. You might think that Bingo is just a pastime for pensioners – but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Nowadays, bingo is a fast-paced game that’s a lot of fun, too - and there are many different types of bingo games (opens in new tab) to enjoy.

How to play bingo: the rules explained

Bingo is all about probability. Each bingo player is given a card made up of a random set of 15 numbers between 1-90. The numbers are arranged on a card or ticket with 27 spaces. 12 spaces are left blank. The aim is to match numbers as follows:

  • Four Corners – Each number in the four corners of the ticket.
  • Line – a horizontal line of five numbers.
  • Two Lines – two horizontal lines of five numbers.
  • Full House – covering all the numbers on the ticket.

Each game has a bingo caller whose role it is to select the numbers. The bingo caller calls out numbers (between 1-90) that are randomly selected either by a computer, a random number generator or using a mechanical draw machine. Some bingo callers may still draw numbers from a bag, like they would have when bingo began. However, this is not the method of choice for most professional bingo halls in 2020.

Once a number is selected, the bingo caller “calls” the number, often using a range of traditional bingo calls (opens in new tab) or modern and funny bingo calls (opens in new tab), which regular players get familiar with over time.

Should the player see that number on their card, they “daub” the ticket – or mark off the number – using a bingo “dauber”. A bingo dauber is a large felt tip pen with a circular head. Some bingo halls have now computerised this process. If you’re playing online bingo, there will be an automatic bingo-daubing process.

As soon as you have marked enough numbers to win a prize – rules may vary by hall or game – you shout “Bingo” as loudly as you can, to get the bingo caller’s attention. You must shout bingo before the next number is called or you miss out on your chance to win.

How to play bingo online

Online bingo is easier than real life bingo in many ways and is a great alternative if you're unable to get to the bingo halls. Playing online bingo is simple. Just find a bingo or slot game you like the look of and choose the number of tickets you'd like to buy. A lot of games cost as little as 1p a ticket so a newbie like yourself might like to give them a go first. The bingo numbers are called out, and your ticket will be automatically daubed by your computer, so you never need to worry about missing a number!

Where to play online bingo 

Ready to play online but wondering which bingo sites are best? (opens in new tab) There are so many sites out there to chose from, so we've picked two of our favourites for you to make the choice easier!

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Pick Me Up! Bingo: Add £10,play with £25 plus 50 free spins (opens in new tab)

Why Pick Me Up! Bingo?  Having re-launched in 2020, this site offers players a great range of bingo and slot games, including some big-name slots. There's chat rooms and regular promotions on site too.

New players only. Valid until further notice. Min dep £10. 150% Bingo Bonus [BB] up to £50 + 50 Free Spins [FS] on Reel Rush (split over 2 days; valid for 3 days respectively; no wins cap). FS wins granted in Games Bonus [GB] & valid on selected games only. WR: 4x (dep+BB); 85x GB. GB wins cap: £100 + initial bonus. UK: deposit balance can be withdrawn at any time. 18+. Full T&C apply. (opens in new tab) Please Play Responsibly. BeGambleAware.Org  (opens in new tab)

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Chat Mag Bingo: Add £10 play with £40* (opens in new tab)

Why Chat Mag Bingo?  It's the official bingo site of real-life magazine Chat, and is host to well over 600 games, with new games dropping regularly.  You can play from the comfort of your sofa, on your smartphone or laptop.

*New players only. Valid until further notice. Min dep £10. 200% Bingo Bonus [BB] max £20 + 100% Game Bonus [GB] max £10. WR: 4x (dep+BB); 50x (dep+GB). WR vary by game. GB valid on selected games only. GB wins cap: £100 + initial bonus. UK: deposit balance can be withdrawn at any time. 18+. Full T&C (opens in new tab) apply. Please Play Responsibly. BeGambleAware.Org  (opens in new tab)

Anna Bailey
Digital Editor

Anna Bailey is the editor of GoodTo. She joined the team in June 2018 but has been a lifestyle writer and online editor for more than 14 years. Anna graduated from Bournemouth University in 2004 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism and went on to gain her NCTJ and NCE  journalism qualifications. She began her career in local journalism, working as a reporter for the Basingstoke Gazette in Hampshire.  As Lifestyle Editor for she managed the websites for the broadcaster’s best-loved shows including This Morning, Loose Women, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Coleen's Real Women, and Britain's Best Dish. Before joining she was also a Features Editor at MSN UK and Digital Lifestyle Editor for the broadcaster UKTV. She’s also contributed to The Mirror, The Sun, LoveFood, LoveExploring, and TBSeen.