The Difference Between Offline and Online Bingo

Bingo numbers and cards

How different can playing online bingo get from being the game that we all know and love? Well, have you ever heard the phrase “same same but different”? That little oxymoron practically sums up the relationship between the two. There are some obvious similarities but there are also significant differences too. Read on to find out more.

What is Online Bingo?

Bingo word as an Enter key 

Bingo has been a mainstay of UK popular culture for decades. Based as it is purely on luck, it comes as no surprise that it has found favour among the masses. The capacity to listen and pay attention to the numbers called out to determine whether they correspond with those on your scratchcard is the only skill you will ever need. One number at a time is called out until one player with all the numbers marked off their card wins.

The local bingo hall brings together a host of people who enjoy courting Lady Luck. But after the golden years, their popularity is gradually declining for a host of reasons including:

  • Tax legislation
  • The decrease in jackpot gaming machines brought about by changes in legislation
  • The ban on smoking in public areas
  • Increasing numbers opting to play the game online for some or many of the above

Playing online eliminates the need to travel to a physical location, allowing players to enjoy this gambling game from anywhere they can find an internet connection. There are an estimated 3.5 million online players of the game in the UK. 

Despite the tax changes, which led to numerous site closures, internet fans of the game can play on any one of hundreds of active  websites dedicated to it. A 2017 report from whichbingo suggested there were more than 420 active sites offering the game online in operation. 

Playing online opens the doors to a greater variety of games, including 75 ball, 80 ball and 90 ball. Find out more about the different types of bingo games you can play online. 

The Difference Between Playing Online vs Offline


Woman smiling holding bingo number cards

The most basic and obvious difference between playing online and offline is that a hall  is geographically tied to its catchment area. Conversely, playing online allows you to play at your leisure, absolutely anywhere, as long as you have a stable internet connection. 


Both online and offline versions of the game can be an enjoyable experience but ultimately each differs in its primary objective. The online game strives for efficiency while your local hall is all about socialising.

This is why – in comparison to the live game – the online version moves at a faster and more frantic pace. This is facilitated by the use of random number generators which play the role usually occupied by a human caller. It’s estimated that random number generation is three times faster.


Despite these differences, the online game does offer a wider variety of entertainment than a traditional local hall, where the most common formats played are 75-ball and 90-ball. In an online game there are a multitude of different themed formats to try.

The difference can boil down to the simple fact that the live experience is built around the assumption that players would also like to engage in other forms of interaction in the hall.


Hands of bingo players playing bingo

For many traditional players, part of the attraction is the opportunity to catch up on the week’s gossip and indulge in a little friendly banter with mates and passing acquaintances. 

So it might seem a bit odd to associate an experience with social interaction. In fact, playing online is an exception. Site owners recognise the social aspect of playing the game and introduced the chatroom. Here, players can chat with each other during games, ensuring they don’t miss out on the interaction. 

Word to the wise, you’ll want to make sure you don’t skim over the section that discusses lingo. It could prove useful.  

Prize winning

Apart from the banter and camaraderie, the reason most people want to play is to win. Prize values between online and the live experience do differ. Most halls essentially tally up the sum of all the tickets purchased for a particular game and set a proportion of that as the jackpot. As a result the value of prizes can vary quite significantly. In some cases, to avoid disappointment, many clubs often offer guaranteed jackpots.

In contrast, like online jackpots can soar to astounding amounts. This is the beauty of progressive jackpots which are financed by taking a portion of every ticket sold for a jackpot game until Lady Luck smiles on one fortunate individual, and they get to pocket the winnings.


Live players of the game need to keep their wits about them, or they might not even realise that they’ve won. If this has happened to you, be assured you weren’t the first. Many a distracted player has neglected to check the numbers on their scratchcard, been overwhelmed by the number of cards they have, or simply not heard the numbers called, only to realise a little too late that they could have won. This is particularly more common where players have multiple tickets to keep track of.

Playing online saves you the hassle of keeping track, thanks to auto-daub. As soon as a number is called out, your online scratchcard is daubed. Sure, you miss out on that incredible feeling you get of daubing as your number comes up, but the excitement of potentially winning is still alive and well.

Ticket buying

Bingo ball on bingo number card

This is one feature where playing online trumps the  live game. When playing at a club you’re only able to purchase your ticket at the physical location. But when you play online, you can buy tickets from virtually anywhere and at any time. For example, if you plan to get a cheeky game in after work, you can buy in advance, perhaps on the morning commute. What’s more, if you find that you’ve had to bring work home with you and don’t have time to give the game your full attention, the auto-daub feature will have your back. It keeps track of all the calls and if you’re lucky enough to win, there’ll be a nice surprise waiting for you in your account when you have time to check it.


One distinct difference between the online and offline versions of the game is the price.

Sadly, everything has a price but the question is whether it suits your budget. There isn’t much room for negotiation where land-based clubs are concerned. Live games charge more because there are more overheads to cover ranging from staff to maintenance, security, and rentals. Playing online is remarkably less costly, with the opportunity to play being as cheap as a penny in some cases. 


If you’ve ever been to a bingo club, you might have been confronted by some interesting calls such as “Man Alive” – 5 – and “Time for Tea” – 83. However, while you might occasionally be “shushed” into silence for talking in a club, you can get by in general conversation with your everyday run-of-the-mill English. 

When playing online, however, you might want to familiarise yourself with a few acronyms that have become the norm of chatroom conversation – LOL and ROFL simply won’t suffice. If you don’t brush up on your vocab, you run the risk of being perpetually confused and bewildered. Feel free to make use of our trusty lingo guide. 

Where Will You Play?

Whether it’s offline or online, 90-ball, 80-ball or 75-ball, Mecca Bingo has a game for you. With hundreds of sites across the web to choose from, we’ve made it easy for you. We’ve poured all our experience from land-based clubs into making the best online experience of the game for you.

No matter where you are, what time of day it is or how much you want to spend, you can rest assured there’s a fun-filled gaming experience you can enjoy.  

Play online today and keep an eye out for our exciting promotions.

We’re here to help you keep it fun – remember to set your deposit limit. Click here for more details on the safer gambling tools available including reality checks and the ability to take a break from your gaming.


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