History of the National Bingo Game

Every day of the year (with the sole exception of Christmas Day), hundreds of bingo clubs across the length and breadth of the country link up to take part in one massive game: the National Bingo Game.

This twice-daily game sees some of the biggest prizes in land-based bingo being handed out, with players regularly walking away with thousands. But what’s the story behind it all? In this article, we’ll delve into the history of the National Bingo Game, including some interesting stats, fascinating stories and an insight into how it became one of the nation’s favourite games.

The Beginning

Pocket watch

As anyone who’s read our article on bingo around the world would be able to tell you, the game of bingo has its origins in 16th-century Italy. However, the story of the National Bingo Game starts (as the name suggests!) a bit closer to home—and a bit closer to the present day.

The National Bingo Game came about as a result of two major developments. The first, of course, was the popularity of bingo in the UK, with bingo halls taking over from theatres and dancehalls as the nation’s favourite night out starting from the 1960s.

The second development was the ability to link together multiple bingo halls via modem, enabling players in entirely different parts of the country to experience the same game at the same time. Think of it as the forerunner to today’s online bingo sites—though with no way to get in contact directly with players at other halls, it’s doubtful it would be competing for the Players’ Choice Award for Best Bingo Community!

With these conditions in place, it was eyes down for the first National Bingo Game, which took place in July 1986. The game has been taking place almost every day ever since!

The Key Facts

National Bingo Game

Image source: National Bingo Game.

The National Bingo Game is a standard, 90-ball game that sees players from across the country to compete to complete their card in the lowest number of calls. In the past, the aim for all players was to be the first to get a full house; however, the rules changed in February 2017, with prizes on offer for 1L, 2L and FH.

Since February 2014, the National Bingo Game has also incorporated progressive jackpot prizes, offering players the chance to win up to a quarter of a million pounds. However, even that massive sum is dwarfed by the biggest win in National Bingo Game history: an astonishing £1,167,795, which was won by the incredibly lucky Soraya Lowell, playing at the Club 3000 Bingo Hall in Coatbridge, Scotland.

As well as the standard prizes on offer during a game, the National Bingo Game runs special Community Prizes and Jackpot Games. Community Prize games differ from regular games in that they reward an entire club, rather than just an individual winning player. So, if anyone at your club wins, the players at your club will all receive a share of £10,000! Meanwhile, Jackpot Games see the stakes raised even higher than normal, with a whopping £50,000 up for grabs as a full house prize.

The National Bingo Game doesn’t stop there, however: in July 2014, they launched National Live, which gives players the chance to win prizes of up to £5,000 during afternoon games, £10,000 on most evening games, and £25,000 on the crucial Sunday evening game. There are new and exciting promos taking place all the time, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!

A Timeline of the National Bingo Game

1968 bingo ball The 1968 Gaming Act comes into force, paving the way for the explosion in popularity of bingo halls and, in turn, the National Bingo Game.
1986 bingo ball The National Bingo Game launches for the first time in July 1986.
1994 bingo ball The National Bingo Caller of the Year competition launches for the first time. Except for a two year break in 1997 and 1998, the competition is held annually until 2007.
2004 bingo ball With jackpots bigger than ever before, the National Bingo Game takes an important step to help players stay on the ball and avoid missing a winning number: getting rid of bingo lingo.
2007 bingo ball Rollover jackpots were permitted for the first time, and the "Big N" was launched, giving players the chance to win silver, gold and platinum jackpots.
2008 bingo ball The National Bingo Game hands out its biggest jackpot to date: over £1 million, which goes to Soraya Lowell from Scotland.
2014 bingo ball The game changes once again as National Live is launched, progressive jackpots and promotions are introduced, and Zone Prizes are removed.
2018 bingo ball Hundreds of clubs still join in the National Bingo Game fun 364 days a year!

How Can I Play the National Bingo Game?

Bingo Hall

Despite the rise of online bingo in recent years, which has allowed players to connect with one another from the comfort of their own homes, the National Bingo Game remains firmly a land-based game. This means that players will need to hop down to their local club to take part—though with so many clubs taking part, this shouldn’t be too difficult!

Entry to the National Bingo Game costs just £1. This fee will get you a strip of six tickets—as well, of course, as the chance to get your hands on some serious cash! Prizes for 1 line range from £1k–2k; for 2 lines, you’ll win between £2k and £3k, and lucky players who are the first in the nation to call “house!” will get their hands on:

  • up to £7,000 for Sunday–Friday afternoon games,
  • up to £15,000 on Saturday afternoons, up to £18,000 on weekday evenings, and
  • up to £30,000 on weekend evening games!

Plus, don’t forget the Jackpot Games, which are played at different points within the week, and could see you walking away with £50,000!

While BingoPort is certainly in love with playing bingo online at our recommended bingo sites, there’s still a place in our hearts for the traditional halls where many of us first fell for the game. So, why not pop down to your next National Bingo Game, and see where it takes you?

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