UK Bingo sites compared
Great British Bingo is designed to bring you the best deals at the best bingo sites with just a few clicks of your mouse button. We constantly review new and existing bingo sites, leaving no stone unturned in our quest to give you the most accurate and up-to-date details of each one so that you can make informed choices about where to play.
First of all, we check out the essentials: The registration process will need to be simple, easy and intuitive; the banking options will need to allow for a fully-updated range of payment methods when you’re depositing money into your players account, and the withdrawal facility will – of course – need to be quick and easy to understand.
Then there’s the reason you join a bingo site in the first place: To play the games. After signing up as a new player we spend a considerable amount of time playing each bingo room to experience the quality of the games on offer: Only those that are smooth, efficient and accessible will make it past our testing requirements, and we’ll also check out the banter from chat hosts to make sure it’s of a sufficiently high standard, too. Finally we’ll check out the side games: These vary hugely between different software providers, so if you like to amuse yourself with slots, scratchcards or casino games whilst you play bingo you’ll need to make sure you pick the right place to play.
We believe that every type of player deserves to benefit from our expertise, so we carry out our tests on sites that cater for all budgets: You can compare sites that offer deposit bonuses favouring high rollers, or look at the various sites offering free no deposit bingo if that’s what takes your fancy.
However, we’re not content with just bringing you the best sites: At Great British Bingo we also want to give you the best deals imaginable, so we negotiate constantly with the sites that meet our criteria to bring you deals and promotions that other players don’t get to enjoy.
By combining our in-depth review data with our exclusive deals, you can effectively compare each and every bingo site worth visiting to bag yourself the best deal at the bingo site that’s right for you.
Useful help and guides
- How to play online bingo
- Regulation of Bingo Sites
- Jackpots and prizes
- How Bingo sites work
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Find out more about Bingo in the UK
The UK has a long and proud bingo heritage stretching right back to the days of state lotteries held in the early 18th century, which attracted huge number of players. These games were subsequently influenced by ideas picked up in Southern Europe by the Royal Navy on their travels, who introduced the concept of selecting numbers at random that corresponded to numbers on personalised playing grids. These games were not much different to the games that are played today, and were gradually refined into the 80 and 90 ball bingo formats that UK players are most familiar with, and that are still played in halls throughout the country.
It is a testament to just how much enjoyment UK players get from the game that the land-based bingo industry here remains buoyant, despite the recent introduction of the smoking ban in the UK and the widespread provision of broadband internet services through the nation. With revamped halls and purpose-built sites, improved catering facilities and the latest hi-tech slot games to keep players entertained at all times, the major bingo operators have breathed new life into the game, successfully shedding its wrongly-perceived image of a game for elderly females.
90 ball bingo remains the UK’s favourite game, with tickets containing 3 rows of 5 numbers each, typically bought in multiples of six to cover all 90 balls. Prizes are given out for covering one or two rows as well as getting a full house.
You’ll also find 80 ball bingo in UK land venues as well, though this is played in a slightly different way using plastic shutterboards with hatches to close whenever a matching call is made. The playing grids contain 16 numbers in a square, with each column assigned a different colour: The colour is announced by the caller as well as the number, leaving no room for error if players don’t hear the caller clearly – and that means the games can take place at a much higher speed.
Although they’re based all over the country, land-based bingo clubs are remarkably adept at working together in the UK, with most clubs offering linked bingo and national games:
Linked bingo brings together several clubs from the same brand with a caller from one of the clubs communicating remotely to all the players. Winning players still shout ‘house’ as usual but they will, of course, win a much larger prize.
The National Bingo Game was introduced in 1986 by the National Bingo Game Association, and uses the same concept, though the competing clubs are not restricted to one brand. Gala Bingo, one of the UKs largest land-based operators, subsequently split off and set up their own version, known as the High 5 game. This has since been replaced by the Party Extra XL Game.
The availability of bingo on the web has introduced the game to millions of players who wouldn’t otherwise have been attracted to it, and online bingo is consequently attracting record numbers of new players from all sorts of age and social groups. Youngsters can play online or on their mobile, enabling them to play whilst engaging in other activities like eating, drinking or socializing – whilst older players can get their bingo fix without having to pay to travel to a land-based venue.
Online bingo has also introduced new variations of the game to British shores that would never have otherwise become popular: Alongside the ever-present 90 ball games, you’ll now often see rooms full of UK players enjoying 75 ball and 30 ball bingo: The 75 ball game was traditionally only widely played in the US until bingo appeared on the internet, but UK players have embraced the idea of playing on a 5 by 5 grid with various pre-determined patterns to aim for with gusto.
The same can be said of the 30 ball game, though this variation is one of the great innovations that web-based bingo operators are solely responsible for – and it’s also the simplest: Cards have a 3 by 3 grid of 9 numbers to mark off, and can claim when they get a full house. Needless to say this doesn’t take long, so 30 ball players tend to buy lots of tickets, making for of fast and furious action for as long as you want to keep on playing. That’s why 30 ball bingo is known as Speed Bingo, and its frenetic pace appeals to young players seeking an adrenaline rush as well as older players looking for more excitement and new ways to enjoy their favourite game.
Linked and national bingo games have an equivalent in the online bingo world, as many sites are part of online bingo networks: These sites have different designs, but under the bonnet they’re identical, offering the same games which are funded by all players across the network – so although it may seem like there are only a few dozen people in your site’s bingo room, there could be thousands playing the same game – which means much bigger prizes. In fact, most bingo sites are part of networks like Dragonfish, St Minver or Virtue Fusion – though some have their software designed in-house.
Not long ago, offering free bingo games would have been seen as commercial suicide – but the online bingo industry is flourishing at an extraordinary rate, so operators will do whatever they can to drum up business. That means you, the player, are in a position of power: With bingo sites falling over themselves to grab a slice of your business, many of them will offer you free games with no deposit required.
You’ll need to exercise some common sense when seeking out sites that give you free games: Some of them appear to be offering you freebies but will actually require you to make a deposit before you’ll get your extra cash. When a site offers a percentage figure as a ‘free’ bonus, or uses a phrase like ‘deposit £10, play with £30′, then you know for sure you’ll need to make a deposit to get the bonus – but there are some totally free deals out there from sites that are generous enough to let you play for nothing in the hope that you’ll reward their generosity by signing up with them – as thousands of players often do.
Genuine free bingo offers will offer small amounts of free cash – typically £5 or £10 – that you can use to play their games. This may not sound like much but given that ticket prices can sometimes be as low as 5p you can actually enjoy hours of games on the house quite easily. You’ll get a good idea of what the chat hosts are like, whether you like the side games and the overall feel of the site – so the free cash is useful just to give you a hands-on guided tour- and if you win a prize or jackpot then so much the better…
By using Great British Bingo to find your games you’ll save yourself the trouble of having to seek out the genuinely good free bingo offers: We’ll do it all for you, and if there are any catches we’ll spot them straight away and either tell you or omit the relevant site from our list if we think the operators are trying to take advantage of you. The key restriction with free bingo is always the wagering requirement: Some sites won’t let you withdraw your winnings if they were generated by a bonus or the deposit that attracted it, until you’ve played a certain number of games. This is standard practice across the bingo industry, but our team has a huge amount of experience in weeding out anything that looks abnormal from a site’s terms and conditions, and if the wagering requirements are excessive we’ll know immediately, saving you the time and trouble of finding out for yourself.
New Bingo Site
With online gamers in the UK and across the world all currently going bingo crazy, it’s not surprising that new sites are appearing on the web almost every day. This abundance of consumer choice, however, makes life harder in some respects for you as a player: With the online bingo market being so lucrative, it’s in many operators’ interests to try and convince you that their site is the most generous, vibrant and innovative entrant to the market of all, which – of course – can’t be true for all of them.
In fact, most new online bingo sites are what are known as white label sites: This term is used when a prospective bingo operator decide they’d like to own a site, but they don’t have the money or time to develop their own software. They consequently pay one of the large bingo networks a fee to use their resources instead: The networks like this because it brings more players to their games and they get to keep a share of the profits, and the operators are happy too as they can outsource almost everything to the network provider. Many bingo sites pay a network not just to run their games, but to deal with their customer service issues, arrange their banking procedures, carry out their security procedures and more.
Some new white label sites will offer some impressive deals when they launch, to attract your attention and build themselves a loyal client base – and if the essential elements of their site are being taken care of by a reliable network that has too much to lose by ripping you off, then you can enjoy some great bargains by joining them. If that’s the case, our team will be onto them and make sure you have all the necessary facts at your fingertips to make an informed decision.
New standalone sites can offer some great deals, too: The sites themselves vary enormously, but if an operator has put the time and money into developing a truly original site then it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll want to provide you with a good service. However, if there are any teething troubles, we’ll spot them before allowing a new site with untested software and customer service to make it onto our list of acceptable sites.
If you tried to play at every new bingo site you’d never have time to do anything else – so let us take the strain and show you which of the new kids on the block really make the grade…
The most popular type of bonus or promotion from online bingo sites by far is the deposit bonus. This tried and tested idea remains hugely popular with players and operators alike, and it’s not hard to see why: If you make a deposit which is matched by a bonus you get free cash to play bingo with, and the site operator has a real cash deposit from you.
Deposit bonuses are invariably expressed in percentage form: For example, a 200% deposit bonus simply means that an amount worth double your first deposit will be added on to your total player balance. This is sometime simplified and expressed in monetary terms to make it easier for inexperienced players to understand: Under these circumstances the 200% bonus example above would be described as something like ‘deposit £10, play with £30′, which has an appealing directness about it.
A bonus on your first deposit is known as a welcome bonus – but deposit bonuses don’t always apply to just your first deposit. Some sites will reward you for your second or even third deposits, and the percentages in each case will simply be added up together to give a total. Bonuses, for example, of 200%, 100% and 150% on your first three deposits respectively would be described as a 450% bonus.
One important thing to remember that sites won’t often explicitly tell you is that making a small first deposit is not always a good idea, as that’s when the best bonuses apply. If you make a small deposit, decide you want to continue playing and then make a larger one, you may find that the second deposit attracts no bonus, or a much smaller one.
The most important thing to remember, though, when investigating deposit bonuses is the wagering requirement, also known as a playthrough requirement. These are very common throughout the online gaming industry, and require you to wager an amount worth your deposit and bonus multiplied over a number of times before you can make any withdrawals. They’re designed to stop players taking bonuses and immediately withdrawing them, and they’re an understandable requirement: Without them, unscrupulous players would be opening up accounts on bingo sites all day and then withdrawing their bonus cash without playing – leaving operators bankrupt in a matter of weeks.
Fortunately, bingo deposit bonus wagering requirements tend not to be onerous as those that apply to casino or slot games, but it’s worth being aware of them – particularly if you’re keen to withdraw your money quickly when you win. Part of our job here at Great British Bingo is to check things like this and anything else that’s in the small print that you need to know about – so we’ll keep you fully informed with regards to any details you need to know about your bonuses.
Many people who don’t play bingo or who have a dated perception of the game are unaware of the huge jackpots that some games offer.
Winning a prize in online bingo by marking off all the numbers on one or two lines or getting a full house feels wonderful, but it’s not the ultimate prize for many players. Just as slot machines often pay out a periodic progressive jackpot to really lucky players, many bingo games offer the same thing. Instead of ringing up five matching fruit symbols, though, you win a progressive jackpot in online bingo by getting a full house within a pre-determined number of calls.
For example, you might need to get a full house in a 90 ball game in 45 calls or less, or a full house in a 75 ball game in 40 calls or less. The precise requirements vary, but progressive games can be found at most online bingo sites and add an extra layer of excitement, with hundreds – and sometimes thousands – of pounds to be won, for a potentially tiny stake.
In terms of payout to stake ratio, progressive jackpots in online bingo can be some of the best prizes on offer in the online gaming world – a fact most expert bingo players want to keep to themselves.
The progressive prizes are made possible by siphoning off a small amount of the proceeds from each game into a separate pot. They don’t require too much cash to be skimmed off for any particular game, as the probability of winning the jackpot means that statistically speaking lots of games will need to be played in order for someone to hit the jackpot – which, of course, means there will be lots of opportunities for the pot to fill up until it’s busting at the seams.
The great thing about progressive jackpots is that they can and often do fill up for a long time, giving the eventual winner a huge prize – there really is technically no limit as to how large they can get.
One strange phenomenon with progressive jackpots is the idea that a game is about to pay out because the progressive prize hasn’t been won for a long time. This – whilst it sounds plausible – in fact isn’t true. The probability of winning never actually changes, yet thousands of players believe that the longer a progressive prize remains unclaimed, the more likely it is to pay out. However, this belief leads players to spend more and more on progressive games as time goes on, filling up the pot at increasing rates – which makes for lots of excitement, which at the end of the day is what bingo is all about…