Bingo Machines, Balls and Boards: The Equipment You Need to Play Bingo

Ever wondered what goes into making the perfect game of bingo? As experts in the business, we certainly know and, in the following guide, we’ve outlined how you can play bingo at home with or without the internet.

What is a bingo machine?

A bingo machine is, as you’d expect, a machine that powers a game of bingo. Sometimes, a bingo machine is called “the blower” because it literally blows balls into the caller’s hand.

How a Bingo Machine Works

Ok, so how does a bingo machine work? Specifically, bingo machines are large drums into which numbered balls are fed. These balls are then jumbled up into a random order by a spinning blade or rush of air. This process of spinning the balls continues until the caller decides to release one.

At this point, the machine blows a random ball up through a tube. The caller collects the ball, reads out the number and places it in a tray next to the machine. Balls are drawn like this until someone shouts for a line or full house.  

Who are the best bingo machine suppliers?

Because bingo is such a popular game, there are plenty of companies out there making products. From DM Club Supplies, Thomas and Anca, Star Bingo, and Club King Ltd. All of these manufacturers are known for producing high-quality and, importantly, fair bingo machines.

Can bingo machines be rigged?

Yes, but it’s rare. All bingo machines are checked and verified by local and national gaming regulators. For example, in the UK, the Gambling Commission is in charge of regulating all bingo operators. Part of the licensing process involves checking every blower, each set of bingo balls, and anything else associated with a game. If any faults or inconsistencies are found, the equipment has to be changed. Moreover, any suspicion of cheating will be fully investigated and action taken if necessary.

What is video bingo?

Video bingo is another way of saying electronic bingo. These terminals are similar to video slots but, instead of reels and symbols, you’ll be able to purchase bingo cards. These cards can be linked to a main game or draws that take place in isolation (i.e. within the machine).

Paper Bingo vs. Electronic Bingo (eBingo)

Bingo started with stones and markings on the ground. It evolved into a pen and paper game. From the US to the UK, the famous bingo dauber has become the weapon of choice for players of all persuasions. The dauber has become an important piece of kit because you may find yourself with multiple game cards and dozens of numbers to check as the bingo balls are being drawn.

Electronic bingo has taken the place of paper and daubers in recent years. In live bingo halls, electronic random number generators (RNGs) can replace mechanical blowers. In these games, special technology allows the machine to select numbers at random and display them on a screen. In line with this, paper game cards can be replaced by electronic pads that players can tap to mark their numbers.

Traditional Bingo Machines vs. Online Bingo Machines

Now, we know what bingo machines are and how electronic devices have brought something different to the mix, so let’s take a look at the differences and similarities between the two:

Similarities

  • Mechanical and electronic bingo machines both produce random results.
  • Both types of machine require a caller to oversee the action.
  • Your aim is always the same i.e. cross off as many numbers as you can.

Differences

  • Electronic bingo machines are faster than their mechanical counterparts.
  • Mechanical bingo machines are more dramatic and entertaining.
  • eBingo machines don’t actually contain any bingo balls.

Bingo Equipment – What does a Bingo Set Contain?

If you want to set up your own game, you’ll need a few pieces of equipment. Fortunately, because bingo isn’t overly complex, you won’t need a lot of things. However, to create an authentic experience, you’ll have to acquire the following:

Bingo Board (Master board)

This is the place where you’ll put the bingo balls once they’ve been drawn. This lets people see which numbers have been called. It’s also a way to ensure no cheating takes place.

Bingo Cage with Ball Selector

This is the bingo machine. If you’re playing at home, a small cage with a mechanism for releasing balls will be sufficient. However, if you’re playing on a bigger scale, a proper blower may be necessary.

Bingo Balls

These are the coloured balls with numbers printed on them. The number of bingo balls you need will depend on the variant you’re playing e.g. for 90 ball bingo, you’ll need 90 balls numbered from 1 to 90.

Bingo Cards

These are the game cards players need. Bingo card templates are specific to each variant. For example, you can’t use a 75 ball bingo card for a 90 ball game. What’s more, you need to make sure the bingo cards template has a random structure; otherwise, you won’t have a fair game.

Bingo Chips

Depending on the bingo set you use, some might have chips instead of balls. If you don’t have a bingo machine, you can put chips into a bag and select numbers at random to simulate the flow of a real game.

Bingo Daubers

The famous bingo dauber, also known as a dabber, is the large pen used to cross off numbers on your game card. The tip of a dauber has been designed so that you can quickly press down and mark numbers within a split-second.

How Do You Play Bingo Remotely? Using a Bingo Set at Home

If you want to play bingo at home, you’ll need the equipment we listed in the previous section. Of those items, the bingo board may be the trickiest to make. For ease, we’d suggest buying one.

How to Create Your Own Bingo Board

However, if you want to create your own, there are plenty of generators online. Once you’ve entered the numbers (e.g. 1-90), the software will create as many cards as you want with random configurations. You can then print them off and play at home.

Can you create your own bingo machine?

A bingo machine can be anything you want it to be. If you’re a wannabe engineer, you can fashion a blower out of a vacuum cleaner or something similar. However, if you’re looking for a quick fix, a bag and some numbered balls/chips is fine. As long as you mix up the balls by hand and look away as you’re drawing them, that’s good enough.

Playing Bingo at Home for Real Money

Once you’ve got your bingo cards, some bingo balls, and a way to draw random numbers, the only thing left to do is play. Of course, if you want to compete for cash prizes, that’s up to you. In a private setting for small stakes, there shouldn’t be any problems. However, if you want to play for big money, you’ll have to use a licensed operator. 

How is online bingo different from a traditional bingo machine game?

The biggest difference between live and online bingo is the way in which numbers are drawn. As we’ve said, live games are powered by a bingo machine. This mechanical device spits out numbered balls at random to ensure every draw is 100% fair.

Online bingo sites like ours don’t need a machine to produce random draws. Instead, we use random number generators (RNGs). These programs use complex algorithms to come up with unique results. This makes every draw 100% fair. In fact, to prove this is the case, our software has to be tested and certified by third-party agencies like iTech Labs.

Bingo app vs. online bingo website?

If the thought of making blank bingo cards and drawing your own balls seems too much like hard work, you can play online. For example, everyone could log in to Paddy Power Bingo using their mobiles and join the same game.

Naturally, playing online does mean everything is digital. Therefore, you won’t see the balls being drawn. However, the games tick over at a much quicker pace. Moreover, the software will mark your numbers automatically, so you can spend more time talking and having fun.

Bingo machine FAQ

What does a set mean in bingo?

A bingo set is a pack of game cards. You have to buy game cards in sets to avoid duplication. In other words, if you combine game cards from multiple bingo sets, some might have the same configuration of numbers.

How many balls are in a bingo cage?

The number of bingo balls in a cage will depend on the variant you’re playing. For example, 75 ball bingo features 75 balls numbered from 1 to 75. In contrast, 90 ball and 80 ball bingo have 90 and 80 balls, respectively.

How many boxes are there in bingo?

The squares on a bingo card are sometimes known as boxes. In 90 ball bingo, there will be 27 boxes, 15 of which will contain a number. In 75 ball bingo, there will be 25 boxes and all except one will contain a number. Basically, each bingo game card will have a unique configuration based on the variant you’re playing.

What is regular bingo?

Regular bingo is any variant that follows a traditional format. 90 ball and 75 ball are considered regular bingo variants, as is 80 ball. More recent creations like pattern bingo, speed bingo, and five-line bingo would be considered “irregular” or “exotic”.

What is a book in bingo?

A bingo book contains the game cards. Each bingo card in the book will be unique. So, if you want to host your own game, a book is an important thing to have.

How do bingo cards work?

Bingo card templates are designed in such a way that each one contains a random selection of numbers. It’s important to have unique cards because the aim of the game is to cross off your numbers before someone else. If too many cards had the same numbers, there would always be multiple winners.

How many ways can you get bingo?

The number of ways you can make bingo will vary depending on a game’s format. For example, in 90 ball bingo, players can call out when they complete a line, two lines, and a full house. Therefore, in that format, there are three ways to make bingo. In five-line bingo, for example, there are five ways to win i.e. a winner is crowned each time a line is completed.  

What is the free spot in bingo?

The free spot in bingo is the box or boxes that don’t contain a number. The free spots are important because they help create the random structures which make bingo cards in a set unique.

What is a sleeper in bingo?

A sleeper in bingo is someone that calls out late. For example, a player may have made a full house when the number #12 was drawn. However, because they weren’t alert, they didn’t call out at the right time. Instead, they shouted bingo when the next number was drawn. In other words, they were asleep and missed their opportunity. Whenever you play bingo, it’s important to stay alert.

Does bingo work on slot machines?

You can play bingo on electronic gaming terminals. It may be the only game available on the machine or it may be one of many you can select. For example, in British betting shops, fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) feature dozens of games, including slots, roulette, blackjack and bingo.

What does a bingo board look like?

A bingo board is a blank canvass until a game starts. As numbers are drawn, they’ll be placed on the board. So, the configuration of numbers shown will change each time a new game starts.

If you want to play bingo at home but don’t have the right equipment, we’ve got you covered. Log in to Paddy Power Bingo today and you can play a variety of games on any device, from anywhere you like.