Unexpected uses of bingo cards around the world


You may be surprised to hear that bingo exists anywhere else in the world. It’s such a staple of British culture that it seems initially bizarre to think of crowded bingo halls in Yokohama or Yucatán.

 But there you go. The umbingo is played the world over, and although there may be minor differences in the rules, wherever you are on the planet, you’re probably never far from a game of bingo.

Bingo has become a form of lingua franca because of its simplicity. And, with simplicity comes diversification. In short, it’s such a useful tool for so many things. 

Bingo in schools

Bingo has been used in schools to help with education for at least the last two hundred years, with the Germans being widely regarded as the first to use it in a learning capacity. Its simplicity makes it perfect for educational purposes, as children are easily able to grasp the rules to learn numbers.

It isn’t just for children either. It’s a highly effective tool in adult second-language learning. If you’re keen on learning Spanish or Italian, it’s highly likely that at some stage, your teacher will introduce a game of bingo to drill the numbers into your head!

You don’t even have to use numbers. You can set up bingo cards with a list of colours in French, a selection of animals in Portuguese, or even some modal verbs in Slovenian. It really doesn’t matter. Playing bingo is a great way to learn.

Bingo as a medicinal tool

Remarkably, there’s even medical evidence that bingo can improve the retention and recollection of information if the hippocampus is exercised in the correct way. In short, bingo is a great way to increase brainpower. 

There are ongoing studies to investigate as to whether it reduces, and in some cases eliminates, the effects of Alzheimer’s in the elderly. What’s more, it has been used to assist children with concentration issues.

Bingo as an ace card for car journeys

Most of us know that long car journeys with children can be a trial. No sooner have you set off on a 6 hour trip, than there’s a chorus of “are we nearly there yet?” from the back seat.

You can fill in whole chunks of the trip with bingo and again, you don’t have to always play with numbers. It’s fun for children to create their own variations and the more personalised it is, the more interested they’ll be.

Bingo in sports commentary 

Whatever your favourite sport, there’s probably a commentator on television that you really like, or just can’t abide. Football, snooker, cricket, tennis, Formula 1, golf – they all have iconic commentators who have become known for their stock phrases over the years. 

A great game to play is sports commentator bingo. Whenever the commentator rolls out the same old cliches as always, you have your game. Phrases like “oh, and that’s a bad miss”, “beautifully stroked away to the boundary for four”, or “England must find a Plan B for tournament football” are particular favourites. 

Drinking games using bingo 

Lastly, and a far cry from assisting brain development and language learning, comes drinking games. Each player gets a coloured shot glass, and if that coloured ball gets called out, then that player drinks. Try to play in larger groups or you’ll end up having drunk so much, you won’t remember what you’re doing! 

It’s so simple, and great for parties and celebrations!

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