According to the Independent, close to 600 bingo halls welcome locals and tourists in the United Kingdom every day. From its first establishment in the 1960s, to its predestined saturation in the online realm, the game constantly evolves to embrace old fans and integrate new ones. For some, bingo is a simple pastime with numbered balls and cards, as well as tons of prizes; but for others, the game offers an ideal vehicle for recreation and socialization with a rich history behind it. With that, here’s a rundown of the most interesting bingo facts in the UK.
Although bingo started in Italy back in the early 1500s, all the corresponding numbers and balls’ name-calling was the brainchild of a Northhampton University professor. The new take on “Bingo Lingo” came up, referencing pop culture personalities, as a way to invite the younger audience to play.
By the Numbers
The National Bingo Game uses a set of numbers from one to 90. However, other variants include sets of 85 and 75. In addition, there are more than 3 million bingo patrons who play at least twice a week in the UK (eight per cent of the nation’s population).
Each week, the prize pool for The National Bingo Game sits at approximately £250,000. To add to that, over £1 billion in total prize money have been given away as of the moment. In fact, a Motherwell, North Lanarkshire native holds the lion’s share of this, as she bagged a record £1.6 million during a National Game at Club 3000 on 23 March 2008.
Bingo isn’t all about fun and games; it also knows how to give back to the less fortunate. Online gaming website, Gala Bingo, partnered with a charitable institution to change someone’s life for the better. Every week, 52 Lives publishes – on its website and social media accounts – a story about a person in need of help. Basically, the UK-based bingo platform and charity group intend to produce £52,000 over 52 weeks to transform 52 lives.
Celebrities as Fans
British singer, Robbie Williams, is a huge fan of the game. During his younger days, he was a fixture at a local bingo club in Stoke and even played with Daryl Hannah during the music video shoot of his hit song “Feel.” Other celebrity fans include multi-talented artist Denise van Outen, BBC Radio 1 presenter Scott Mills, and even the Queen herself. Another fun fact: before they were boy band members, Simon Webbe of Blue and Westlife’s Kian Egan were actually bingo callers.