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Online Bingo vs Live Bingo - What's the difference?

Bingo has been one of the UK's favourite pastimes ever since the conclusion of the Second World War. Land-based bingo halls were constantly filled as bingo was considered a fun and social activity, and even replaced the cinema as society’s go-to form of entertainment. At its peak, there were over 1,000 land-based bingo halls in the UK, which not only brought a lot of entertainment to millions of customers, but also provided thousands of jobs. It is estimated that bingo in the UK employed more than 20,000 people during its heyday.

Towards the latter part of the 1990’s, however, participation rates in bingo halls began to drop. With the downturn in attendance, several bingo halls were forced to close their doors. The UK Bingo Association reported that there were less than 400 bingo halls left in the country.

This downturn was not a sign that the game of bingo was in decline, but rather the first signs of bingo’s transition to online platforms. With the rise of the world wide web in the late 1990’s, players had a new venue to satisfy their bingo appetite.

The number of people playing bingo online has risen dramatically since 2008, from 50,000, to an incredible 3,000,000.

Online bingo has taken the industry back to its golden age and its popularity has grown even more with some polls suggesting that 75% of players prefer online to the more traditional, live bingo. At this stage we examine the key differences between online bingo and live bingo to find out why online bingo has become the more attractive option for the majority of bingo players.


One obvious difference is the setting in which the two forms are played in. Online bingo can be played pretty much anywhere you have an internet connection, which allows you to bingo in the comfort of your own home.

Land-based bingo halls are physical venues where you can play bingo. There are a good number of major bingo halls solely dedicated to hosting bingo games, but lesser venues are commonly used for smaller games, such as community centres.

In live bingo, you get the full social experience that has long been associated with the game. There are often numerous other forms of entertainment in bingo halls too, such as music, a selection of slot machines, and a shop where you can purchase drinks and snacks.


The most common forms of the game are played in live bingo with the 75-ball and 90-ball formats. Halls also often have speed rounds in-between rounds of the main games, but these would also usually be variants of 75-ball and 90-ball bingo.

Offline bingo halls must consider the entertainment value that they are providing when running their bingo games, since most of their players are looking for an entire night of entertainment, and not just a game of bingo.

In online bingo, operators have a lot more options when it comes to the variety of bingo formats they can offer. Since the emphasis in online bingo is more about the speed of the game, operators can offer shorter bingo variants such as 50-ball and 30-ball bingo, among others.


As mentioned before, speed is the focus in online bingo, while entertainment is the main drive of live bingo halls.

Online bingo uses a random number generator, as opposed to the human callers used in land-based bingo halls. This allows for a faster, more efficient and more consistent rate of calls in online bingo compared to live bingo. It is estimated that in online bingo a new number is called out every three seconds, in comparison to ten seconds per number when called out by a human caller.


There is also a significant difference between online bingo and virtual bingo when it comes to ticket prices and costs.

Land-based bingo has significantly higher overhead costs to worry about compared to online bingo operators. This is due to the space they occupy, and other considerations such as staffing costs.

This means that the average cost of a ticket in land-based bingo is approximately £5 per ticket compared to £1 with online bingo. It is estimated that the average cost of a night at a bingo hall is around £20 when taking into consideration the price of tickets, food and drinks. This significant difference is due to the fact that online bingo operators can offer tickets that cost as little as 1p each.


As touched on before, land-based bingo’s setting lends itself to more interaction than in online bingo. It is the social nature of bingo halls that made the game popular in the first place. Online bingo operators are well aware of this and have long tried to replicate the social aspect of land-based bingo onto their online platforms.

One such way that online bingo does this is through the introduction of the chat box. Most online bingo websites will have some sort of chat function in which their players can interact with each other. The introduction of this feature proved to be a hit with bingo players, and before long fun and vibrant communities of online bingo players started to form.

At Heart Bingo, our chat boxes are hosted by chat hosts who are there to answer any questions you might have and to ensure that the chat environment remains a positive one. Chat hosts also regularly host free-to-play chat games and explain the bingo promotions currently available on-site.


Another key difference between online and offline bingo is the amount of prizes that can be won. Most bingo prizes are made up of the sum of all tickets sold for that game. As a result of this prizes can vary widely, depending on how many players are playing the same bingo game as you.

To ensure that there is always something worth playing for, bingo halls often have guaranteed jackpots on offer. The biggest offline network of bingo games in the UK is the National Bingo Game. This game takes place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and links bingo games across the country through a telephone system. Jackpot prizes in the National Bingo Game can reach up to £250,000.

In online bingo, the jackpots on offer can be even bigger. This is because a lot of online bingo platforms use a jackpot system that is common in the world of online slots, the progressive jackpot. Progressive jackpots are funded by taking a percentage of every bingo ticket sold for a jackpot game. These jackpots continue to grow until one lucky player scoops the lot.


A further contributing factor as to why online bingo is a much faster game is the auto-daub feature. In live bingo, customers will likely have multiple tickets that they will need to check and mark when their numbers are called, which the human callers must take into account when making their calls. In online bingo, numbers that are called out can be automatically daubed by the computer to ensure that a customer does not become overwhelmed if they have bought several tickets for the same game.

This is in stark contrast to land-based bingo, where your full attention is needed to ensure you do not miss a number. Combined with the pre-buy feature discussed below, the auto-daub feature allows online bingo players a lot more flexibility when it comes to winning at bingo.

Pre-Buying Tickets

A key advantage that online bingo has over its land-based counterpart is the option to pre-buy tickets for games in advance. In land-based bingo, you can only buy tickets for bingo games at the physical venue. However, you can purchase tickets for online bingo in the morning for games that aren’t set to start until later that night. Worried that you might not be available when the game starts? Fear not, as the auto daub feature will keep track of your tickets and any wins will be added to your account.