Bingo has its own set of etiquette rules. Being around since the 18th century, it has developed both written and unwritten rules that make playing bingo go just that much smoother. Although variations exist, these rules are consistent from place to place.
Basic Bingo Etiquette
Here are a few etiquette rules to help keep you from running afoul with fellow bingo players.
Keep it down
It should go without saying that when playing bingo at your favorite brick and mortar venue, you should always use your ‘inside voice’. It’s also good to be aware that during bingo games, being quiet is a general rule. Socializing is great, but do try to avoid unnecessary chatter. There are few things worse than those who simply won’t stop talking while you’re trying to focus on the game. It’s also annoying when someone moans aloud every time that they don’t win. If you have questions or are confused, try to ask them in a quick manner and be as unobtrusive as possible.
There are plenty of parents and grandparents that bring their kids along to the bingo hall. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as the children understand the importance of keeping quiet while the adults are playing. You can do this by bringing along things to keep them occupied.
The Subtleties of Seating
Regular players at the bingo hall sometimes have places that they like to sit and may even consider them their lucky seats. The unwritten rules are that bingo seating is not a first come, first served type of arrangement. Those lucky seats can often be unmarked territory. Try to respect the request of regular players and find another place to sit if asked. Over time, you may find you have your own special seat that you like to sit in and want others to respect it in a similar fashion.
Respect the Bingo Caller
One of the most important etiquette rules is to pay close attention to the bingo caller. Most bingo halls have an electronic board that will light up the numbers as they are called. Another important thing to remember is that the bingo caller does not have any control over the numbers that are drawn. You can certainly vocalize a desire for the caller to speak up if it is hard to hear them, but try to be polite about it. The bingo caller will also determine what type of game is being played, which is announced at the start of the game. Paying attention to the caller and how it corresponds to the numbers on your cards can help ensure that when you call ‘BINGO!” you really do have one.
The Rules of the Game
Bingo is a fairly consistent game with each game being played on cards that have 5 squares which correspond to 5 columns that spell out the letters B-I-N-G-O. Each letter has a specific range of numbers that go under that column. For example, for the letter ‘B’, the numbers will range from 1 -15. For the letter ‘I’, numbers range from 16 -30. For the letter ‘N’, the corresponding numbers are 31 – 45. For the letter ‘G’ the numbers run from 46 – 60. And lastly, for the letter ‘O’, the numbers range from 61-75. In the center of each bingo card there is a Free Space. The Free Space can be used as part of any combination that makes up a BINGO.
The letter and number combination are written on bingo balls which are drawn from a hopper that holds the balls. The balls are drawn randomly and one at a time with the bingo caller announcing these to the players. Players will mark these off on their cards as they are called. Winners are determined by the first person who gets all of the numbers for an agreed upon pattern. This can be across, down, or diagonally, blackout or in shapes that are determined before the start of the game.
The first person to call BINGO is usually the winner. Numbers on the card are checked against those that have been called by the bingo caller. If all of the numbers match between the card and what is called, then that person is confirmed as the winner. If not, it is considered a “false bingo”. In the case of a false bingo the game continues until a winner is determined.