World Championship Bingo

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The bingo world answers to no central authority, so it may come as no surprise that not one but two different “world championships” exist, competing for players and the right to be recognised as the apex of annual bingo play. Fortunately, the two are easily differentiated, as one caters to land-based players, while the other claims the Internet as its domain.

Every autumn since 1989, the world’s leading publication dedicated to bingo, The Bingo Bugle Newspaper, has organised The World Championship Bingo Tournament & Gaming Cruise. It is a seven-day voyage, with over $100,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs, including $80,000 guaranteed for The World Championship Bingo Tournament.

Currently conducted aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s “Dream” to the Eastern Caribbean, the cruise features optional early bird and night owl bingo games to allow participants even more chances to win aboard the Dream. Stops are made in St. Maarten, Nassau and St. Thomas so that passengers may stretch their legs and take in the sights, but otherwise it is one exciting bingo session after another, awarding points and tracking progress up the ladder of the leaderboard until one player claims the title and big prize.

Every player who participates receives a nine-on package of bingo paper per session. The player with the highest winnings after 60 official tournament games becomes Bingo’s Grand Champion. In addition to a cash prize award, the lucky winner also receives a free cruise for two aboard the Fall Bingo Cruise for the following year.

The Panama-registered 1,004-foot vessel has 1,823 state rooms with a capacity for 3,646 passengers. Amenities include on-deck pools, a waterslide, whirlpools, mini-golf, a seaside theatre, four onboard restaurants and room service. For entertainment, there are also two show lounges, a casino, dance club, piano bar, game arcade and Internet access Fun Hub. Among other facilities, there’s a spa, fitness center and beauty salon, too.

The organisers say a sell-out is guaranteed each year. Their next Championship is scheduled to depart from Miami, Florida on 3 November 2013. All participants are automatically enrolled in Carnival’s “Loyal Cruisers Club.”

Meanwhile, a group of online bingo sites have gathered together to proclaim the Bingo World Championship as their own since 2002. It features a series of tournaments leading up to the £5,000 Bingo World Championship Grand Final held each March. Those who wish to vie for the title may enter in one of two ways—either by winning an entry in one of three rounds of qualifying competitions held in November through January or by winning one of 20 freerolls held in February.

Each of the top five finishers of the qualifying round is granted an automatic spot in the Grand Final. With three rounds per sponsoring web site and 14 sites in the mix, that’s 210 lucky players going on to the big showdown.

To compete for one of the additional 20 spots allotted through the freerolls, a player must have participated in at least 1,000 real money games in the bingo rooms of a participating sponsor. Eligible web sites include Bingo Beez, Bingo Empire, Bingo Funland, Bingo GALA, Bingo Mega, Bingo Plex and Bingo Splash. The others are Gina Bingo, Glamour Bingo, Imperial Bingo, Main Street Bingo, Paramount Bingo, Premier Bingo and Ritzy Bingo.

Winners of the freerolls receive £100 apiece. Those who make it to the Grand Final have the opportunity to share in a prize pool worth £5,000. In 2011, the winner, whose online user ID was “Nines,” beat out 229 challengers to claim the big prize worth £3,000, along with the bragging rights as Bingo World Champion—at least as far as online competition is concerned.

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