How to organise a virtual bingo night with friends
Whether you are a clubber, pubber, or a bingo player, winding down at the end of the week is important. And if you aren't comfortable with getting out into the world right now, it's especially important. Keeping in touch with friends is essential, even if you can't be with them in person.
So, we thought we’d give Online Bingo readers some tips on how they can organise a fun, social game of bingo online with friends without needing to leave the house!
All you need to do is get some mates involved, follow the instructions below and have a laugh! Best of all, all of these options are completely free and use tools you have in your home already!
Don't forget to share screenshots, photos or videos of your virtual bingo night on social media and use the hashtag #OBVirtualBingo! We'll be sharing some of the best ones!
Step 1. Get your mates together
Now, obviously you can’t meet your friends in person right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hang out together virtually! There are many options out there for having large-scale video calls, many of you will already be using these daily as working from home becomes normal day-to-day life too! Here are some options and why we think they’re great.
Skype is the original video calling software! It’s totally free, compatible with all mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers and even some smart TVs (if you have a compatible USB webcam). Skype lets you have up to 50 people on a video call, so if you’ve got a lot of pals it’s perfect for those virtual get togethers!
Zoom is a very popular option for businesses and friendship groups alike. It's easy to set up, works on desktop, laptops, mobile phones, and tablets and is free to use! Up to 100 people can be in a Zoom video call, however the free package limits sessions to only 40 minutes long. Zoom's custom backgrounds add a whole extra layer of fun to your hang outs and bino games too!
Houseparty is the new kid on the block and right now it’s taking the country by storm. The app lets up to 8 people join a virtual ‘house party’ video call and it even has the option to play some games together without even leaving the app. It’s a mobile phone app at heart, but it does have a chrome browser extension that you can download too.
Discord is a a text, voice and video chat app designed with gamers in mind. With Discord, you can set up a server, designate channels for different topics or games and share the invite with your friends. There are likely already Discord servers for all your favourite games and communities online, but it can also work great for your virtual bingo night! Up to 10 people can be in one video call, and discord also supports screen sharing too.
Facebook Messenger Rooms is the new feature from Facebook that lets you and your friends host a video chat room! The app lets you host up to 50 people in one room and it doesn't require a Facebook account to take part! Soon, Facebook will be adding functionality to create rooms in Whatsapp and Instagram too, but for now the app is your best bet.
For your virtual bingo night, we’d recommend using Zoom as it requires the least amount of setup, is supported on the widest range of devices, has the hilarious virtual background feature and lets you share your screen easily so someone can act as the bingo caller. Oh, did we not mention there would be someone in charge?
Whichever option you choose, don’t forget to have a drink ready for when everyone joins the room. You don’t want to be the one holding everyone up!
Step 2. Argue over who gets to be the bingo caller
A bingo game without someone in charge of drawing the numbers and checking the winners would be chaos. As much as chaos is some people’s idea of a fun Friday night, we think your virtual bingo night will run a lot smoother if you designate a bingo caller!
Each game of bingo you run should have 1 person whose job it is to generate the numbers, call them out to everyone playing, check people’s tickets and ensure that there is no cheating. Telling a joke or two between numbers wouldn’t go amiss either. This is a coveted position, so make sure to fight for the privilage.
It is also the job of the caller to designate the prize for their game! Whether it be cash, an IOU for a drink or a voucher for a back massage, it’s good to have something to play for, though this is totally optional! It will be fun to play more than one game of bingo as you catch up and chat, so remember to keep rotating the caller so everyone gets a turn.
Step 3. Generate the tickets
This step requires a little bit of honesty, but the people you’re planning on playing bingo with wouldn’t be your friends if you couldn’t trust them! Usually bingo tickets have numbers randomly dispersed in a grid, but for this virtual game we’re going to make it a bit easier to set up and follow.
Bingo is a game all about numbers, but how will you decide what numbers are on your ticket? The same way that all online bingo sites do, a random number generator! Everyone playing is going to need a pen and paper for this step. I know it sounds like work but this step is vital so everyone has to do it.
Before the game starts, the caller should decide what your range of numbers will be. Usually there are two types of bingo games, 90 ball bingo is played with number from 1-90, and 75 ball bingo which is played, surprisingly with numbers from 1-75. However, as this is your game, you can choose any range of numbers (though maybe try and keep it to a maximum of 100, otherwise the game could go on forever!)
Every player should then complete the following steps with pen and paper at the ready:
- Google ‘random number generator’, where they'll be greeted with a handy generator tool.
- Set the minimum to 1 and the maximum to be the maximum number of your game.
- Hit ‘generate’ and write down the number that appears on the paper.
- The player should do this until they have 5 random numbers written down, this is their ticket!
Now all your players should have their tickets and the excitement in the chat room should be electric. The caller should get everyone to show them their tickets to ensure there’s no funny business happening, then the game can commence!
If you're a seasoned bingo player and want to play with the real bingo tickets you're used to, we have you covered! Our downloadable bingo night resources contain 60 tickets and a bingo caller cheat sheet which are just as good for playing virtual bingo as they are for hosting a bingo night at home!
Our bingo tickets are also numbered and labelled so you can send them to your friends/family and easily communicate who’s tickets are who’s when you're not in the same room. You can find links to our free downloadable bingo night resources at the bottom of the page!
Step 4. Play the game!
You’re now so close to playing bingo you should be able to taste the balls. As the callers job is to shout out the numbers for the players to mark off on their tickets, then you may be wondering how can you do this with no balls or bingo turner? Why, it’s another random number generator!
There are already a load of bingo number generator options on the App Store, Google Play store and on the internet, so try googling around to find one that works for you. However. you might not need anything quite that specific or advanced. So what are your best options?
Whether the caller is playing on a PC or a phone, Google’s random number generator you’ve already used is more than sufficient! Simply set the minimum to 1 and the maximum to whatever number you decided upon in the previous step, then when you start playing just hit generate and call the number out for players to mark off on their tickets! It couldn’t be simpler.
The caller wil need to remember to keep track of what numbers have already been called in case an argument breaks out. You can even share your screen using Skype so that your players can see the numbers as they are drawn, just to prove there’s no funny business!
Step 5. Winner winner, chicken dinner
As this game of bingo isn’t as traditional as the ones available on bingo sites, there can only be one person to walk away victorious. The first player to mark off all 5 numbers on their bingo cards and shout ‘BINGO’ (though 'house' might be more appropriate right now) is the winner! After a thorough checking of the numbers by the caller of course...
It's the winner's job to give a heartfelt speech, accept their prize graciously, and take any banter they may receive on the chin. After all, this is their time to gloat. A fun way to keep the game fair is to make the winner of each game take on the role of caller in the next game, which should also stop any talk of a winning streak from turning into a fight after a few more isolated beverages.
Bonus Step. How to award prizes
You may want to make your bingo game a bit more interesting and play for real money between you and your friends, or if you’re playing virtual bingo to raise money for a charity or fundraiser you will want to collect donations, even if your event is no longer happening in person. As cash is out of the question right now, here are some of the best options available for collecting people's contributions digitally!
Monzo is the fastest growing bank in the UK, and it doesn’t have a single branch! Not only does it make banking 100% digital, it also lets you set up pots for easy saving and shared tabs to easily split bills or collect money from friends. Using Monzo to create a prize pot that everyone playing can contribute to is quick and easy.
PayPal is the most widely known eWallet in the country and probably the world. It can be used to pay for items online or send and receive money from friends and family. You can even use PayPal to play bingo online. Because PayPal is so easy to set up and use, using it to collect money for a virtual bingo prize fund is simple!
Apple Pay is only available on iPhones, iPads and certain MacBook devices, but it can be a handy way to send money with just your phone. Using iMessage to send money is quick and easy and can be done with just a mobile number. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with Android phones and there’s no collection/pot function like the other options.
JustGiving lets users set up charity donation funds and share them online. This is a perfect solution if you’re running a virtual bingo night for charity and need to collect donations as anyone can make a contribution to your fund and all the money is handled and donated by JustGiving.
Of course, you don't need to give out a cash prize at all! Players could all chip in to get the victor a takeaway, or a gift voucher, or even some drink IOUs for the next time you see them. You might even consider just playing for scores and bragging rights, so everyone can take part and nobody is left out. Be creative!
Why not meet new friends playing bingo online?
If your friends aren't bingo fans then there are still ways to enjoy virtual bingo in your own home. Plenty of online bingo sites have of bingo rooms open that also offer live chat options, so you can still socialise as you play!
Why not check out some of the best online bingo sites and find your next favourite, you might end up making some new friends in the bingo live chat.
Bingo night downloadable resources
You can also generate your own free bingo tickets using the MyFreeBingoCards 90 ball bingo ticket generator.
Virtual Bingo sharing graphic
Show your friends/family/followers/audience how easy it is to organise a game of virtual bingo with this downloadable infographic made for sharing! Click the image to download the full HQ version.
Our favourite Virtual Bingo stories
Bingo fans have been reluctant to give up their favourite pastime during lockdown, making it one of the most searched lockdown activities on Google. Celebrities have also been getting in on the fun too, why not check out some of our favourite virtual bingo stories?
Matthew McConaughey hosts live game of virtual bingo for assisted living community. After the residents of The Enclace assisted living in Round Rock, Texas reached out to Mr McConaughey to see if he fancied popping in and playing bingo with them, he went a step further. Joining them on a Zoom call, McConaughey and his family helped out by calling the numbers, awarding prizes and even hosting a Q&A session for the players. Alright, alright, alright!
Man hosts bingo night for his whole street. A man from Wales entertained his entire street by handing out bingo tickets, calling numbers from his bedroom window and awarding prizes, including a bag of rice, a bar of soap and even a nice glass of prosecco. It looks like a lot of fun and definitely something more people should have a go at!
Weekly virtual music bingo nights benefit the NHS. A Huntingdon event planning business has turned its expertise in creating fun parties into a weekly night of music bingo, with all proceeds going towards the local NHS hospital! After raising nearly £2000, the event has drawn the attention of household names like Paul Chuckle, James Buckley and X-Factor legend, Wagner. Why not get involved this weekend?
Will and Kate host a royal game of virtual bingo. The royal couple surprised the residents of a Cardiff care home by taking part in a game of virtual bingo via Zoom, wowing everyone with their bingo caller skills. Or at least they tried to, as a few residents were less than pleased with the pairs abilities. Luckily, Will and Kate found the whole thing hilarious!
Peter Andre plays Zoom bingo on MrQ. The singer and reality TV star has a new series out on YouTube, and in the latest episode he gathered some of his tour buddies for a game of virtual bingo. Instead of using our guide (not that we're bitter), he instead opted to host the game on MrQ!
Have a story featuring a game of virtual bingo? Let us know over on the OnlineBingo Twitter and you may be featured on the site!
Virtual bingo FAQs
What is virtual bingo?
It’s pretty self explanatory, but Virtual bingo is the same classic game of bingo that’s been enjoyed around the world for generations, except it’s played digitally! Unlike online bingo, which is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission and set up by gambling operators, virtual bingo can be enjoyed by anyone with just a PC, mobile phone or tablet completely for free!
Is virtual bingo free?
If you're playing virtual bingo between your friends and family then yes, you do not need to spend any money to take part! If you agree on a cash prize beforehand then you may be required to contribute, but all the services and apps listed above are completely free.
Is video calling software safe to use?
While we are embracing technology more and more every day, it's still a good idea to be sensible to help you stay safe. When it comes to video calling software, if you are using the trusted providers (such as the ones mentioned in this guide) you shouldn't run into any issues.
Can you win real money playing virtual bingo?
If you are running your virtual bingo night between friends and family then you can collect and award money prizes, however if you are planning to host a game of virtual bingo for commercial gain, then you should look into the Gambling Commission rules regarding private bingo nights. If the virtual bingo game is for charity, must also ensure you do not exceedr the maximum prize that is allowed to be awarded.
Can you play virtual bingo with kids?
You can play virtual bingo with people of any age! If you're getting children involved in a family virtual bingo night, it might be fun to play for sweets or toys, something fun for them. Remember that bingo is still a gambling activity, so if you're running a virtual bingo night for charity then they shouldn't be staking any money.
How long does a game of virtual bingo last?
The length of time it will take for you to play bingo will depend on the variety of bingo you're playing and how many players you have. How focused you are and how many jokes you're telling in between will also affect the length of time it takes you to play. Generally speaking though, a game lasts around 10 minutes so you'll have plenty of time for multiple games giving you all a few chances at winning!
Can you play virtual bingo for charity?
If you are running a virtual bingo night to replace a cancelled fundraising event then you should try and keep the game fun and fair by nominating a caller involved in the cause. The Gambling Commission's rules for running a bingo night for charity must still be followed, and prizes should be taken via one of the online payment methods listed above. Read our full guide to hosting a bingo night for charity for a step by step guide to organising your event.
How can I make virtual bingo festive?
The great thing about hosting a virtual bingo night with your friends is that you can play for any occasion. So, whether it's a Friday night, a humpday hang, or it's someone's birthday, you can adjust the game to suit the event! For some inspiration on taking your virtual bingo from 'anyday' to 'holiday' read our Christmas virtual bingo guide.