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Can Electronic Bingo Take Over?

Is it the Future?

We're used to seeing the traditional style bingo ball machines in bingo halls. The white gloved caller carefully taking balls from the whirrling device and calling out the numbers, sometimes with the familiar associated call outs. But what about these new fangled electronic bingo machines, which do away with not only the standard calling machine, but the felt tips, paper and pens from the bingo call patrons. Could they take over? Could they be common place? Are they even as much fun

What is Electronic Bingo?

For the most part, this is the general term which covers the operation of a bingo game in the traditional manner but without the paper tickets. It could also be used to describe online bingo, but for the purposes of this article, I'm looking at bingo hall bingo, but with electronic input machines.

Instead of the players using a stubby felt tip pen to mark off numbers on a piece of paper, instead you're presented with a display board; this forms your bingo card, and can be useful for a number of operations in addition to markting off your numbers. Because these screens are essentially computer monitors, you can use them to purchase new tickets, to look through your old tickets and to see what games you've got lined up. In some places you can even set these machines to auto mode, so that you can concentrate on drinking whilst the game effectively plays itself on your behalf.

Not all bingo halls have these new devices yet, and you might even be left baffled by what I'm talking about, in which case, just think of online bingo, but in a bingo hall. That's pretty much what we're talking about here.

How to Play

This depends on the bingo hall or franchise you're visiting, but in general the play style is to plonk yourself down at your chosen seat, and possibly grab yourself a drink, if it's not self service. In front of you, there should be an lcd screen or a handheld version which you can carry about. From this display you can select which cards and the number you'd like to play, which is theoretically endless (be careful how much you spend!). Once you've selected your cards, as each number is called from the caller's electronic machine, you can mark off your numbers simply by touching them on the screen (possibly buttons on some early versions). The device double checks this number (in case you've had one too many sherries) and if it's correct, marks it off your card. If your card is close to winning, then you'll be told how close you are on screen. If you win, then this is displayed on screen, but you probably still have to shout "BINGO", so as to not take the most fun part away.

There may be variations on this theme. For example; you still might need to buy your tickets from a central point, with dedicated payment areas. There also might be the option for the machine to shout "BINGO" for you, in case that's not your thing.

How this Changes the Game

One of the most fundamental ways this changes the game is to allow people who might have problems playing the original type of game, access to get involved in the wonderful world of Bingo. It also provides a bit of a change from the traditional play style. It saves paper. It allows you to continue playing without getting up and in some instances it allows you to order drinks straight from your seat!

Also, you can play MANY, MANY bingo cards at the same time without getting lost or confused. Now if you've built up a fantastic multi tasking ability for bingo, you still might want to do this yourself, which you can. If not, buy loads of cards, and let the machine help you out along the way. Just remember to pace yourself so that you don't blow all your money on one game... but then, if you win that game, then it's all good.

Mecca Bingo is one of the biggest uptakers of this new format, with reportedly investing over £6 million into the project. So you probably won't find this down the local village hall.

One place you'll definitely find it is online though. So get playing today!