Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We regularly get asked questions about a broad range of things and topics, directly and indirectly related to bingo.

Below are answers to some of the more common questions asked, if your query is regarding an aspect or condition of membership please visit the Membership section of this site.

If your query is not covered below then please email us

1. When was The Association Formed?
The Association was formed in 1998

2. How many members are there?
There are currently 62 individual companies in membership, which vary in size from large multi-site operators, to owner/manager run single site businesses.

3. How is The Association run?
The Association is a limited company and is run in accordance with its Memorandum and Articles of Association, as would be the case for any company limited by guarantee. In addition to these company requirements there are conditions of membership, details of which can be found in the Membership section of this site.

4. What is the history of bingo?
Modern day bingo is a direct descendant of Lo Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia - the original Italian lottery, first played in 1530 and almost every Saturday since. While bingo's lineage is not a direct path, its relationship, evolution and spread can be clearly mapped from its Italian origins, through France in the 1700 and then throughout Europe in the 1800s. How bingo made its leap across the Atlantic to the United States of America is unclear, but it is likely to have travelled over with early European migrants. While bingo had been popular up to the early 1900s, it was put firmly 'on the map' by an American toy salesman named Edwin S. Lowe, in 1929. Lowe happened across the game while travelling to Jacksonville, Atlanta Georgia, at which time the game was called 'Beano'.

Returning home to New York, Lowe introduced his friends to 'Beano' who took to it with the same tension and excitement as he had first seen when played at the carnival in Jacksonville. During one session a player, in her excitement, mispronounced the winning call of Beano, as BINGO. The rest is history. Lowe produced and marketed his Bingo game with huge success. Although the name bingo could very well have been trademarked, the game itself, having come out of the public domain, had little chance of being protected and imitators came out of the woodwork once the success of Lowe's game was evident. However, Lowe asked his competitors to pay him a dollar a year in order to call their games Bingo and avoid litigation. The name became generic.

By 1934 there were an estimated 10,000 Bingo games a week, and Ed Lowe's firm had a thousand employees frantically trying to keep up with demand for cards on which to play. By the 1940's Bingo games had sprung up all over the country, with tens of thousands of games being played every week. By the 1950s the new 'Bingo' was being re-imported back to the UK

5. Which Government Department is the sponsoring department for Bingo?
Bingo is part of the broader gambling industry and is sponsored by The Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

6. When did the current gambling legislation come into effect?
The current Act in force is The Gambling Act 2005, which came into effect in September 2007.

7. Do you need a licence to run bingo?
Association Members all operate bingo clubs in Great Britain, which offer ‘land based’ bingo on commercial terms (for profit). As such they must at minimum obtain a Bingo Operating Licence and Personal Licences for certain members of staff from the Gambling Commission as well as a Premises Licence from the local Licencing Authority. The Bingo Operating licence gives an entitlement to a certain number of gaming machines which can be made available in the club.

Clubs may also offer food and drink, alcohol and performance entertainment, each of which carries a licensing requirement.

Bingo run in support of charities, or as one off activity, which takes an aggregate of less than £2,000 in a seven day period does not need to be licensed.

8. Who is the regulator responsible for checking that operators comply with requirements and taking action where and when they don’t?
The Gambling Commission is responsible for checking that all gambling establishments and activities are properly run and operated in accordance with the terms of the Licencing Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) issued by the Commission, this includes licensed bingo clubs and the games played in them. Membership of the Association ensures that Members are kept informed of changes in advance of their implementation and lobby for change where appropriate.

The Bingo Association works very closely with the Gambling Commission to help inform members when there are changes to licensing. The Association also works with its Members to develop best practice in these areas and encourage operators in other areas such as social responsibility.

A link to the Gambling Commission web site is available in the bottom right hand corner of every page on this site.

9. Is there a high incidence of problem gambling in bingo?
The Association and its Members take the issue of problem gambling very seriously and as a sector, bingo has a ‘zero occurrence’ target for problem gambling. The industry works hard to move towards this, directly through the management and running of clubs and indirectly through its support of rehabilitation, education and treatment organisations, such as The Responsible Gambling Trust.



  • gambling commission
  • IBAS
  • Responsible Gambling Trust
Lexham House, 75 High Street North, Dunstable, Beds. LU6 1JF.
Tel: 01582 860921 Fax: 01582 860925
© 2022 The Bingo Association Limited I Company No: 7588517 I Incorporated in England and Wales

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