Many of you are probably aware of the main differences between US/Canada and UK online bingo. We favor the 75-ball variety, where you get 24 numbers on each card plus one free square to mark off, and the Brits like the 90-ball variety, which uses three rows with five numbers per card, and players can play with multiple cards for each game. However, in the same way that more and more Brits are discovering the fun of playing 75-ball games, the word is slowly spreading in America about the British version, and as a result, some bingo game sites like BingoMania.com are thinking about introducing more 90-ball games for their members.
Now, much as we love them, the Brits can be a funny bunch – they call fanny packs “bum bags”, and when we talk about “pants”, they think we’re talking about underwear. However, things get even more entertaining when you come across a UK games site and listen to the ball calls…
While we’re pretty familiar with a voiceover telling us which ball has just been called out, it’s mainly along the lines of “B1” or “N41”. However, at UK sites, there’s a time-honored tradition of adding bingo slang to each ball call, and some of them are pretty downright whacky.
The following tips go hand-in-hand with our previous blog post key features to look for when joining a new bingo site.
Just take a look at some of these examples…
“Number 9 – Doctors Orders” – what’s THAT all about? Well, reportedly this refers to a laxative pill that was made available to servicemen in the army and navy in WW2. You can’t beat a bit of toilet humor…
Forget RuPaul – for the British, the only drag queen that matters in the world of online bingo is Danny La Rue – an Irish-born entertainer who was born in 1927. Quite why Danny was picked to represent the Number 52 is a bit of a mystery; still, we quite like fact that his memory is honored thousands of times a day as the words “52 – Danny La Rue” are uttered across hundreds of British games sites.
We love this number when it comes to online bingo in the UK as the ball caller says, “63 – Tickle Me”. Unfortunately, no-one seems to know the origin of this brilliant phrase, but it gives us images of players tackling the caller to the ground and tickling him/her mercilessly!
“76 – Was She Worth It?” refers to the pre-decimal price of a marriage license in Britain – 7 shillings and 6 pence. When this number is called out in a UK bingo hall, players often shout back “every penny!” to the caller.
83 is traditionally called as “83 – time for tea”, and the British are renowned as a nation of tea-drinkers. Even the number 3 is sometimes called as “Number 3 – cup of tea”. Haven’t they heard of Dr. Pepper?!
Some UK bingo slang is inspired by American culture. For example, 57 is often read out as “57 – Heinz Varieties”. According to the food manufacturer Heinz, the company’s founder (Henry J Heinz) was inspired by an advert while travelling on a New York train in 1896. The ad was promoting 21 different styles of shoe, and Henry concluded that 57 would be a lucky number for his company. So, even though Heinz were manufacturing over 60 products at the time, Henry brought in a slogan that referred to the brand producing “57 varieties”. Today, the company makes literally thousands of products world-wide, yet still trades on the “57 varieties” slogan.
Candy is a word that’s only caught on in the UK in more recent years, probably as a result of more US manufacturers selling their products to European markets. While we say candy, the British normally say sweets, so we think it’s fairly safe to say that the saying “74 – Candy Store” is inspired by American culture.
While the Number 28 can have one of two associated calls (the first being “Over Weight”), we prefer the term “In a State”. After all, the British don’t have states like Texas, California, and South Dakota – they have counties, like Devon, Cheshire, and Yorkshire. So, we like to think that “28 – In a State” is a little tribute to us, across the pond. Sadly, however, it’s far more likely that “In a State” refers to something called Cockney rhyming slang. Cockney rhyming slang is associated with the East End of London, and it involves replacing common words with a phrase (usually constructed of two or three words) that rhymes. For example, a “phone” is known as a “dog and bone”, “Tea” is “Rosie Lee” while “stairs” are called “apples and pears”. Thus, in Cockney rhyming slang, the terms “In a State” (i.e. stressed out or worked up) is commonly referred to as “two and eight”.
At UK online bingo sites (and in the majority of land-based bingo halls), you’ll often hear “35 – Jump and Jive”. Well, trivia fans – where did jive dance originate? Right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A! Jive dancing became popular in the 1930s and was adopted by our friends in the UK and parts of Europe thanks to American soldiers in WW2.
The number 85 is commonly referred to as “Staying Alive” which, as we all know, is the title of a hit 70s American movie starring the electric-hipped John Travolta.
While the Number 77 is sometimes accompanied by the words “All the 7’s”, other alternative phrases include Sunset Strip. As most Americans will know, Sunset Strip is the name given to a stretch of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, which is home to many trendy shops, nightclubs, and restaurants. “77 Sunset Strip”, however, is also the name of a cult US TV series which ran between 1958 and 1964, and featured a private detective; the series also achieved popularity in the UK.
At the end of the day, even though we don’t get to enjoy such zany phrases in America, there’s definitely one thing both of our nations do share – we LOVE our online and land-based bingo!
So, if you ever get the chance to play UK-style 90-ball bingo games, we can highly recommend them as an alternative to 75-ball games.