Bingo Terminology

The world of bingo enjoys a language all its own! Below is a list of some common bingo terms. If we are missing your favorite bingo lingo, please contact us and let us know!

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Admission Packet

An admission packet is the minimum number of cards that must be purchased to take part in the game. Six to twelve cards usually comprise the admission packet for every regular, and sometimes special, game. The content and price of an admission packet varies by bingo hall.

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Bingo is a specific game of chance in which participants use cards or paper sheets, or card-minding device representations thereof, divided into horizontal and vertical spaces. Each space is designated by a letter and a number, and prizes are awarded on the basis of the letters and numbers on the card conforming to a pre-determined and pre-announced configuration of letters and numbers selected at random.

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Bingo Ball

A bingo ball is a ball imprinted with numbers and letters that is used in the selection process of a bingo game.

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Bingo Board

A bingo board is display board, usually electronic, that lights up. It shows each number as it is called.

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Bingo Event Game

A bingo event game means a type of pull-tab game, with or without a seal card, that is designed by the manufacturer so that certain prizes are determined by the draw of a bingo ball.

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Bingo Machine

A bingo machine is a type of selection device with a receptacle for the unselected bingo balls, a blower for selecting the balls and a ball tray that contains seventy-five holes in which to place the ball once it is called.

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Bingo Paper Pack or Bingo Booklet

A bingo paper pack or bingo booklet means a specific group of different colored, numbered bingo paper sheets that are manufactured and collated together all containing the same number of faces (ON's) to be played for each game at a bingo session. They are bound in the order in which they will be played.

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Blackout is a bingo pattern where you must cover the whole card to win. Usually, 50 to 60 of the 75 bingo numbers have to be called to cover all the numbers on a card, but blackouts in as few as 43 numbers have been recorded. Blackout is the same as coverall.

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A blower is a forced-air device that mixes the bingo balls and dispenses them to the caller, who announces the number and displays it on a bingo board.

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Bonanza Bingo

Bonanza bingo is a progressive coverall jackpot that is usually played as the 13th game of the session. Forty-five numbers are drawn before the session and players mark them on separate cards and set aside. There is an additional fee to play this game, usually $1. The countdown for a bonanza game begins at 48 numbers or less and goes up one number per week to 52 numbers or until won. The amount of the jackpot is determined by card sales for that game.

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Break Open

A break open is a multiply card, made completely from paper or paper products, with perforated break open tab or tabs. Break open is another name for a pull tab or an instant bingo ticket.

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A buy-in is buying bingo cards or an admission packet (see above).

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A caller is the person (or machine) who calls out the bingo numbers for the players.

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A card contains 24 numbered spaces and one free space (blank or it will have a number or the words “Free Space”), with which you play BINGO. The numbers are assigned at random on each card and are arranged in five columns of five numbers each by five rows (5 x 5 = 25 in total, which includes the blank square). The numbers in the B column are between 1 and 15, in the I column between 16 and 30, in the N column (containing four numbers and the free space) between 31 and 45, in the G column between 46 and 60, and in the O column between 61 and 75. Players have thousands of unique (unduplicated) cards to choose from. Most bingo cards used today are disposable and printed on newsprint type of paper. Hard cards are available but are not commonly used today.

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Card Minding Device

A card minding device is any mechanical, electronic, electromechanical or computerized device that interfaces with or is connected to equipment used to conduct a game of bingo. It allows a player to store, display and mark a bingo card face.

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Charitable Organization

A charitable organization is any religious, benevolent, educational, fraternal, veterans, service, non-profit medical, volunteer rescue, volunteer fire, senior citizen or youth athletic organization that is exempt from the payment of federal income tax under Section 501(a) and listed in Section 501c3, c4, c8, c10 or c19 of the Internal Revenue Code.

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Coin board/Merchandise Board

A coin board/merchandise board is a game board that contains coins or merchandise as prizes and is played in conjunction with instant bingo or pull tab tickets. In addition to instant cash winners, the pull tab tickets may designate a winner on the coin or merchandise board. The prize associated with that number is awarded to the ticket holder.

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Consolation Prize

A consolation prize is the prize or prizes offered on some special games if there is no winner in a predetermined number of calls.

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A coverall is a pattern where you must cover the whole card to win. Usually 50 to 60 of the 75 bingo numbers have to be called to cover all the numbers on a card. But coveralls in as few as 43 numbers have been recorded. A coverall is the same as a blackout.

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A cut indicates the direction in which a sheet of bingo faces will be cut from the master sheet. Cuts can be square, horizontal or vertical.

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A bingo dauber is an ink-filled bottle/pen with a foam tip on it used to mark called numbers. When you touch the bingo card with the foam tip, it marks the square. Other names for daubers are dabbers, ink makers and dab-o-ink.

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A deal means each separate game or series of pull tabs that has the same serial number.

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Early Bird Game

An early bird bingo game is a bingo game that starts before another regularly scheduled game.

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A face is the individual bingo sheet containing 24 numbers and the free space in the middle.

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Flare Card

A flare card is a card or poster included with each deal of instant bingo or pull tab tickets. A flare card will include the name of the game, the form number, the serial number of the game and the cost per ticket or per play. The flare also explains how to play the game and what the winning symbols and associated prizes are.

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Flash Board

A flash board, like a bingo board or display board, means a board that displays the bingo numbers called.

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Free Space

A free space is the center square of the card, which does not have a number assigned to it. It's like a Joker or a wild square. You get it free every game and it counts towards your winning pattern.

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Hard Card

A hard card is a reusable card bearing a bingo face or faces.

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Hard-Way Bingo

A hard-way bingo is a bingo pattern in a straight line without the use of the free space.

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Instants are pull-tabs that pay the prizes immediately.

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A jackpot is a big prize usually awarded for achieving a difficult pattern (such as a blackout) within a specified number of balls.

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Lucky Jar, Cookie Jar

The Lucky Jar or Cookie Jar is a container with cash. You win the contents of the lucky jar if you say bingo on the lucky number. The lucky number is usually the first number called at the beginning of a session. Money is added to the jar every time the lucky number is called or if the caller makes a mistake in announcing the game. Usually you can win the lucky jar only on regular games. There is no lucky number during special throw-away games.

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Minimum Buy-In

The minimum buy-in is the least amount you must spend to be eligible for prizes.

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Money Ball

A money ball is a number drawn before the game that will double a player's winnings if bingo is hit on that number.

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Moonlight Bingo

Moonlight bingo is a session of bingo that starts late at night, usually about 10 p.m.

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Multiple Winners

Multiple winners are when two or more players bingo at the same time. When this happens, the cash prize is divided among them. For example, if there are five winners on a $500 game, they each receive $100.

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Using nicknames is a way of announcing or repeating the bingo number drawn in a humorous way. In a crowded, noisy room, it also helps to confirm the number called. Bingo play using nicknames persisted in British bingo halls until faster computer draws replaced air-blown balls.

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Ons refers to the number of bingo faces per sheet. A 6 ON would have 6 faces per sheet.

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A pattern is the shape you need to cover on your card with called out numbers. You only need the numbers that form the pattern to win the game. The most basic patterns are straight lines in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal direction. One popular pattern is the "blackout" or "coverall," where you have to cover the whole card to win.

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The payout is the percentage of sales paid out by the house. This compares with a payout of approximately 45 percent on state lottery games.

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Postage Stamp Pattern

A postage stamp pattern is matching four numbers to form a postage stamp (a 2 x 2 grid) in any of the four corners.

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Progressive Game

A progressive game is a seal card game with a designated jackpot that, if not won, is carried forward and added to the jackpot of the subsequent deals of the game until the jackpot is won.

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Progressive Jackpot

A progressive jackpot is a jackpot that gets bigger until it is won. It builds daily, weekly or monthly if it is not won in a specific number of calls. If there is no winner in X number of calls, consolation prize(s) of lesser dollar amounts are paid. Different variations of progressive games add dollars, numbers or both to the jackpot. There is usually a separate buy-in for progressive jackpot games.

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Pull Tab

A pull-tab is a game of chance using a folded or banded paper ticket, or a paper card with perforated break open tabs. The face of the pull-tab is covered or otherwise hidden from view to conceal a number, letter, symbol or set of numbers, letters or symbols, some of which have been designated in advance as prize winners. These shall include tickets that utilize a seal card. Pull-tabs are commonly known as tickets, break opens or charity game tickets.

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A raffle is a game of chance in which a participant is required to purchase a ticket for a chance to win a prize, with the winner to be determined by a random drawing.

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Seal Card

A seal card is a board or placard used in conjunction with charity game tickets that contains a seal or seals which, when removed or opened, reveal pre-designated winning numbers, letters or symbols.

Seal cards can also be pull-tabs that include instant winners, but further the chance to win through utilizing “holders.” Holders are generally red 00’s or 13’s. Once the box of tickets is completely sold, the game operator opens the seal(s). The person(s) holding the number that appears under the seal will win the indicated prize.

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A series indicates the number of unique faces that a single set will contain. For example: a 9000 SERIES has 9000 unique faces.

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A session is an entire evening or daytime program of bingo consisting of regular games usually played on hard cards and special games played on throwaways, flimsies or paper sheets. A session usually lasts somewhere between two and a half hours and three hours and 15 minutes.

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A set refers to the 9000 bingo faces in bingo paper numbered in sequence and are all one color.

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Six-pack, Nine-pack

A six- or nine-pack means that there are six or nine numbers in a block on one card.

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A special is a game that usually is played with a different set of cards than the pack purchased at admission.

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Speed Bingo

Speed bingo is a variation of regular bingo. Numbers are called very quickly and you can bingo in as few as three numbers. Speed bingo is usually played before or after a regular session.

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Speed Game

A speed game is a bingo game in which the winner splits the sales of the game (the pot) with the bingo hall or house. For example, the winner might get 60 percent of the sales and the house would keep forty percent. A speed game can also be played as a coverall with quickly called bingo balls.

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Split Pot

A split pot is a bingo game in which the winner splits the sales of the game (the pot) with the bingo hall or house. For example, the winner might get 60 percent of the sales and the house would keep forty percent.

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Tab Wizard

The Tab Wizard is a point of sale system that assists operators with their pull tab management. The Tab Wizard is the number one selling pull tab point of sale system in the country.

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Throwaways are bingo cards printed on thin sheets of paper. There are usually three cards printed on a single sheet but flimsies are also printed in one, two, four, six or nine-card formats. Typically, a flimsy sheet costs one or two dollars and a win on a flimsy on a special game usually pays quite a bit more than a win on a regular game.

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A turbo is an electronic dauber system used to play multiple packs at once. The unit is very user-friendly and allows a player to play more cards electronically while daubing on his or her paper packet.

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Ups refers to the number of sheets that are used to make your bingo book. For example, a 6 UP indicates that the book has six sheets of bingo paper.

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Validation is the eligibility required to win additional jackpot amounts. The price varies by number of cards played.

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Wild Number

The wild number is the number played on a double bingo that leads into a triple bingo. The first number out of the hopper determines the wild number. For example, if 42 is drawn, all numbers ending in 2 should be marked off.

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Wrap Up

The wrap up is the name of the last game of a session.

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