- Online bingo
Online bingo is the game of bingo (US|UK) played on the Internet. It is estimated that the global gross gaming yield of bingo (excluding the United States) was US$500 million in 2006, and it is forecasted to grow to $1,000 million by 2010.
Unlike balls used in regular bingo halls, online bingo sites use a random number generator. Most bingo halls also offer links to online poker and casino offerings as the patrons are often in the target market. One notable feature of online bingo is the chat functionality. Bingo sites strive to foster a sense of community and interaction between players as this helps customer retention.
Main Types of Bingo Games
There are four main types of bingo played around the world. In live North American bingo halls, they typically play the 75-ball version of bingo on a 5x5 card with the center square usually marked 'free'. The letters B-I-N-G-O typically sit atop the 75 ball bingo card and they correspond with each of the five columns found on the bingo card.
The desired pattern which players aim to achieve in 75 ball can vary dramatically, from a simple single line to more complicated themed patterns. The aim of the game, however, is always the same: to mark off the numbers to achieve the desired pattern. Speed Bingo is a variation played exactly the same, but numbers are simply called much quicker.
In the UK, parts of Europe, Australia and parts of South America they play a 90-ball game, marked on a 9x3 card. Both types of bingo are prominent online. In 90-ball bingo, each card has three horizontal lines and nine columns. Each line contains five numbers, meaning each card has 15 numbers. The first column contains numbers from 1-9, the second column contains numbers from 10-19, the third column contains numbers from 20-29, all the way through to the final column which contains numbers from 80-90.
A game of 90 ball bingo will normally be played in three stages: one line, two lines and Full House. In a "one line" game players need to mark a complete horizontal line across one card (i.e., 5 numbers marked). The aim of a 'two lines' game is to complete any two marked lines horizontally across one card (i.e., 10 numbers marked). Finally a "Full House" means all the numbers marked off on one card (all 15 numbers), as in a regular coverall game. The prize split differs for each stage of the game. The prize will be shared equally among the winners if there is more than one. The Full House is always the largest prize in any one game.
A third type of bingo game is a rather quick game of bingo. It is played with 30 balls, numbered one through thirty and appropriately known as 30 ball bingo or speed bingo. The 30 ball bingo game utilizes a 3x3 card and the object of the game is to be the first bingo player to "fill" his or her card, which requires all nine numbers on your card to match the numbers that have been called out. 
The fourth main type of bingo game is 80 ball bingo, which is a hybrid between the 75 ball bingo rules and 90 ball bingo rules. The bingo cards are 4x4, thus they contain 16 numbers. Prizes are awarded in 80 ball bingo vary, depending on the game played. Some of the ways to win 80 ball bingo include being the first player to complete an entire line on their bingo card. The "line" can be horizontal, diagonal, or vertical. Getting "four corners" also constitutes a win in some 80 ball bingo games, whilst other games require multiple lines (1 or two lines), and still others require a full house. 
One of the earliest known online bingo games, launched in 1996, was a free bingo game called "Bingo Zone". To play, members had to provide demographic information; in turn, members would receive targeted ads based on the demographics provided. Another early pioneer for free online bingo was Uproar, which launched Bingo Blitz in 1998.
To win the largest prizes, users must fund an account, but free bingo games are also available offering players a way to win smaller amounts of money with no risk of gambling. Some online bingo sites offer no deposit bingo with sandbox play. This will allow the player to get the hang of the system without a cash investment, but no monetary value can be gained.
Most sites accept a standard range of e-wallet funding options. Sites often provide a number of incentives to deposit, including matching bonuses where the site will reward depositing players by matching a percentage of their deposit.
Recently, the USA government has passed laws that limit banks ability to process credit cards for US citizens. The laws prevent US based payment providers from taking payments for online gaming.
Playing bingo online, players can make use of optional features which make playing the game easier, such as auto-daub. Auto-daub automatically marks off the numbers on cards as they are called, so players don't have to. Most software providers support other gaming features as "Best Card Sorting" and "Best Card Highlighting" where players cards are sorted and highlighted by closest to bingo. Some of these features are designed to free players to enjoy the communal pleasantries of the chat features.
There is variety among the different kinds of bingo games that can be played. For example, some inexpensive game rooms appeal to the player who may want to play for just a 10 cents or 10 pence; some bingo games only allow players to purchase the same amount of cards so they are not competing against the "high rollers" out there who buy many cards for the same game.
Whereas in land-based bingo where talking is strictly forbidden during a game, it is actively encouraged in online bingo. Chat functions as an effective retention tool, aimed especially at the predominantly female audience.
It is customary for players to congratulate winning players with comments like "WTG," or "Way To Go". Much like instant messaging, online bingo chat communities have their own acronyms which are often used in replace of often repeated sentences.
CM stands for "chat monitor". (This can also stand for chat moderator; in some other sites you may have "CH" which stands for chat host.) The CM works for the bingo site as the host of a chat room and plays a role in welcoming players and creating a friendly and communal atmosphere in the room. This includes, but is not limited to, congratulating players when they win a game as well as playing chat games in-between bingo. Most sites have a chat protocol known as chat etiquette or chatiquette.
Popular chat games include Odds and Evens, Dodgeball, Roulette, At the Races, Birthday Bingo, Lucky Gem, Keno and Bullseye.
There are a number of sites that will have the same promotions, similar graphics, the same bingo rooms and the same CMs. This occurs because they are part of a bingo "network". In simple terms, this means a number of different sites (or "front ends") are playing with the same numbers for the same jackpot (i.e., the same back end). Multiple sites act as doorways to a single game, leading to larger pools of players in chat rooms and more sizeable pots to win, in an arrangement known as White Label Gaming. While the bingo software is the same, the brand owners are responsible for the look and feel of the site, together with any promotions they wish to offer. This is an important feature of online bingo in that it is critical that any site have enough players to have a decent sized game. Hence, the bingo network that "shares" players.
Online bingo in the UK
Bingo is the most popular group leisure activity in the UK and the second most popular individual leisure activity. It is the most popular leisure activity for women between 20 and 25 years old. More than 3 million people now play online bingo in the UK.  The UK market has seen an influx in big brand names launching bingo games on their already established websites in addition to a number established land based operators including Mecca and Gala also entering the market.
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- ^ H.B. Koplowitz (1997). "Cyber Bingo". hbkoplowitz.com. http://www.hbkoplowitz.com/LIC/archives/1997/bingo/index.html. Retrieved July 16, 2010.
- ^ "Gamesville.com: Wasting People’s Time Since 1996". Virtual Advisor, Inc.. http://www.va-interactive.com/inbusiness/editorial/biztech/articles/gamesville.html. Retrieved 2008-05-31.
- ^ "UPROAR Unveils FREE Multi-site Online Bingo Game: Bingo Blitz". CNET Networks, Inc.. July 28, 1998. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_1998_July_28/ai_20953883. Retrieved 2008-05-31.
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