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Online Bingo - The Low-Cost, Highly Social Way to Bet
With more than 300 specialized web sites now online, bingo has become one of the Internet's fastest growing money games. Virtual bingo halls have been gaining momentum due to a number of factors, not the least of which are lots of free offers, the low cost of playing, massive payouts, and innovative software. What's more, there is the opportunity to network with bingo enthusiasts from all around the world, as the game has spread from Europe to Asia and the Southern Hemisphere as well. Even Americans are joining in, as an estimated 124 bingo web sites have opened their parlors to residents of the United States.
Games to Play
Thanks to cards priced as low as a penny or two, pretty much anyone can afford to play online bingo. The majority of bingo web sites list their "cheap rooms" on the home page and post low-cost special offers, from daily Buy-One-Get-One-Free (BOGOF) games to savings on multi-card buy-ins. Any player who signs up for an account can start playing immediately with a deposit of just £5.
Essentially, there are no barriers whatsoever to becoming an online bingo player - not even the rules of the games, which are automated to the point of"no knowledge or experience necessary". Once a card is purchased and play begins, the computer tracks each number called, marks the card accordingly, and signals "Bingo" or "House" when a winning combination occurs. The player's main task is to select the game room and number of cards to purchase.
Three basic versions of bingo are played online. There is the American-style 75-ball game featuring a five-row by five-column card layout, and it is available almost universally. Wins are achieved by catching five numbers in a column or row or diagonal. Most variations allow multiple winners to share in a prize pool, depending on the number of entries, while others have guaranteed pots.
Also quite popular are 80-ball and 90-ball games that are based upon the bingo halls of the United Kingdom. Besides winning with five numbers in a line, these games pay for multiple lines and Full House combinations of all three types of win. There are also coveralls (or "black outs"), which require marking every number on the card. In some cases, huge progressive jackpots are offered for a coverall achieved within a certain number of balls drawn.
Less common but also quite popular are pattern games, in which players try to be the first to create a certain shape, such as a capital Y, T or L, or catch all four corners of the card. In 90-Ball Spanish Bingo, only horizontal lines count as a first winner. In Joker Jackpot Bingo, a 54-card poker deck is used to indicate what spots should be marked on the card instead of numbered balls.
How much can be won depends on the cost of the cards and the type of game being played. Some offer £1 million coveralls three times a week. Cash prizes of £2,500 or more can be won with cards costing as little as 5p. Nowadays, many sites start new games every few seconds and allow up to 24 or more cards to be purchased per game. Some have multigame cards that played simultaneously in more than one room.
Providing the software for these games are such reputable developers as Parlay Entertainment of Canada, Byworth Entertainment of Cyprus, global gaming giant Playtech, and many others. Their state-of-the-art applications feature auto-daubing, instant re-buys, and very realistic audio/visual elements. Most of the games require no downloading to play.
Because online bingo play is so automated, players have plenty of time for other activities. That's why the bingo rooms offer lots of side games, from instant-win scratch games that cost only a few cents to casino-type slots and knowledge-testing trivia challenges. Quite a few bingo web sites also provide free horoscopes to read, too.
One unique aspect of online bingo is its social networking function. Chat rooms give players the opportunity to meet each other, while chat moderators steer the conversations and introduce "chat games" for amusement and sometimes cash. In real bingo halls, talking to neighbors is tantamount to taboo, but in virtual bingo halls, it is de rigueur. Bulletin boards and blogs add to the community feel of the sites, too.
Bonuses to Claim
The most common Welcome Bonus among online bingo halls is small bankroll to get players started. It may be on the order of £5, £10, or £20 for simply signing up. There are usually restrictions on what games can be played and how quickly the bonus must be used. However, it costs nothing to claim these, and typically no deposit is required.
For those who do set up a funded account, the bingo site will often offer a matching bonus equal to the value of the first deposit up to a certain maximum. This kind of bonus can also come in the form of "free play" credits worth double or triple the initial amount put in. Again, restrictions may apply, such as buying a certain number of tickets or playing a minimum number of games before the bonus is fully released. The terms and conditions of any bingo bonus should definitely be read carefully.
Checking a bingo site's list of recent winners or "leader board" can give some indication of what types of jackpots can be won. Many online bingo halls have loyalty programs that reward regular customers for their patronage, too. Also look for special promotion - from free rolls to cash back offers - that could put a bit of extra cash in your pocket