Review: 75 Ball Bingo

Americans are known to like making things their own. They dare to be different just for the sake of it. Look at how they’ve put their own stamp on a whole lot of beloved British things... they call chips fries, for some reason metres have been converted to yards, they’ve switched around our straightforward date, month and year format, and let’s not get started on the fact that they call football “soccer”!



So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that bingo didn’t make it over the Atlantic unscathed either. In the US, it’s believed that 75 balls are better than 90 and that’s how our much-loved traditional 90 ball bingo has been shortened down to 75. Much like how our words have been shortened to remove ‘unnecessary’ vowels and double letters, bingo is enjoyed in a much shorter version.

How did 75 ball bingo games originate?

The tale of all bingo begins in 1530 in Italy. Yes, you read that right. Not only did the Italians give us yummy food and fabulous fashion, but they also gave us bingo. The game was played as a version of the national lottery and is still going strong today.

Bingo then took a trip across Europe into France, where it mingled with the aristocrats, enjoying its fair share of good wine and brioche. The game then got wind of the fact that the Germans had the world’s best beer and decided a trip there would widen its worldview too. After spending a bit of time scoping out the hops and barley scene, Bingo must have felt a pining for a home, a place where it would be loved for centuries. That’s when it crossed the channel and found a loving audience in the UK as 90 ball bingo.

However, in the 1920s, a man by the name of Edwin Lowe was trying his utmost best to have a grand time at a carnival in Georgia in the US, when lo and behold! — he came across people lining up to play bingo. They paid a nickel for the grand prize of a doll (thank goodness we’ve come leaps and bounds since then).

Long story short (just how the Americans would like it) Lowe decided the game could be commercialised and he attempted a version himself, which was only mildly successful. Luckily, he realised that he would be better off leaving the complicated stuff to a mathematics professor from Columbia University, who then fine-tuned (so they say) the 75 ball bingo game that is played throughout the US today.

The basic rules of play

It seems that the Americans were hankering after a little more pizazz than their British brethren when it came to bingo. In the UK, we like our bingo like we like our food: simple, straightforward and satisfying. The US has learned a little more towards the complex, quickly completed and completely solo version, as you’ll see below.

Their version of bingo comes in a 5x5 grid, and just in case you forget which game you’re playing, the word “BINGO” is splayed across the top of a grid that’s filled with random numbers between 1 and 75.

When we say random, we don’t mean absolute carnage; we mean sort of random. The numbers still fall within a certain range; the first column took up with numbers 1 to 15, the second has 16 to 30, and so on.

But, just when you thought you could get a grip on the game, there’s a surprise! A great big unusual square at the centre of the grid, which is sometimes blank, sometimes has a random symbol in it or could contain the word “Free” inside it.

Now, if you’re a fan of playing songs along the lines of “Another one bites the dust”, “Winning” by Santana or “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors, then you’re going to enjoy what you read next. A lot of the time, there is only ONE winner in 75 ball bingo. That’s right! You could be the sole winner of the jackpot. However, note that if there is another winner, you will need to split the prize.

What do you have to do to get your hands on this jackpot though? You have to complete a specific pattern! This could be as straightforward as a diagonal, horizontal or vertical line, but be prepared for another surprise too. In some games, you may have to complete something a little more extravagant, such as hearts, faces, and in some cases, a coverall pattern where you have to mark off each and every single number on your bingo card — wild, we know!

For this reason, it’s no surprise that this version of the game is also referred to as Pattern Bingo.

Pros and cons

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about playing 75 ball bingo:

  • It’s slower: It may seem odd, but 75 ball bingo is actually played at a much slower pace than 90 ball bingo. So this may be boring for the bingo adrenaline junkies out there, but if you’re in it more for the banter and camaraderie, then it will probably be right up your alley.
  • The game is shorter: We know, this seems confusing given the above point, but hear us out. With just 75 balls there is a lot less time spent on actual gameplay than 90 ball bingo. This means that if you don’t like it when things… um, finish too quickly… then you’ll probably be left disappointed and hankering for something more substantial. But if getting things done as quickly as possible is your usual standard, then this is something you’ll be absolutely delighted with.
  • (Mostly) one winner: As we mentioned above, most of the time there is only one lucky son of a gun that gets their hands on the jackpot. However, if you’re more of a “sharing is caring” kind of human, then you’ll be happy to know that in the rare event that someone else gets the winning pattern at exactly the same time, you’ll split the prize.
  • 75 ball bingo usually has bigger jackpots: Let’s be honest, there’s no con for this one. All winners want bigger jackpots and with 75 ball bingo having (mostly) only one winner, you stand a chance to be the one doing the moonwalk up to the podium to claim your prize.

Tips and strategy

Firstly, you need to understand that bingo is an entirely random game, but there are some ways that you can turn up the charm with Lady Luck in both traditional and online bingo games.

  • Choose the best bingo site: Not all bingo sites are created equal and if you’re playing online bingo it’s important to choose an online bingo site that is registered, safe to use and offers you a variety of games to choose from.
  • Play at off-peak hours: We all love a good peak on a night out — you know, that moment where you feel like it’s the most fun you’ve ever had. But in bingo, it’s best to avoid the peak, in the sense that you shouldn’t play at peak hours. Fewer people to compete with means better odds for you.
  • Check out the pattern: All bingo halls, clubs or online sites will show you the pattern you need to fill in before the game and it’s essential that you take a good look at it and keep it in your head. You don’t want to yell out bingo when you’ve completed a chicken pattern instead of a heart!
  • Have fun: At the end of the day, no matter what version of bingo you are playing, the aim of the game is to enjoy yourself. Concentrate on the caller, daub out your numbers, but most importantly, have the time of your life playing the beautiful game, (with or without your favourite pair of lucky pants on).

All kinds of online bingo with Lucky Pants Bingo

Variety is the spice of life and this also applies to bingo. Much like food and other more intimate aspects of life, monotony can get very boring and that’s why it’s always a great idea to spice things up. At Lucky Pants Bingo, the best online bingo site (if we do say so ourselves), we have a whole host of games for you to choose from! Whether you feel like a little Slingo bingo, 75 ball or 90 ball action, or anything else in between, we’ve got something for you. Just to put a cherry on the top, our site is mobile-friendly, which means you can play from anywhere: the toilet, your couch, or even on a boring date.

Lisa Stormings / 26 October 2020