Considering it is a straightforward game that offers more than its fair share of thrills and excitement, it is perhaps no great surprise that bingo has proven to be a huge hit across the globe through the years.
While it has a long history here in the UK, it has been thriving in a number of countries for decades, and it is particularly loved as a pastime in Australia. Here, we take a look at how the game has grown to be a phenomenon Down Under, and also provide an overview on what to expect in terms of Australian bingo calls if you end up playing in the country.
A brief history of bingo in Australia
While it is widely accepted that the origins of bingo can be traced back to Italy in the 1500s, the game is actually thought to have grown in prominence in Australia at the start of the 20th century.
For some time, it was in fact known as ‘Housie’ and winners would call ‘house’ rather than shouting ‘bingo’ as is now more commonly accepted across the globe. A number of sources suggest that bingo games were initially held in marquees across the country before the action was eventually transferred to the classic setting of the bingo hall.
Like in many other countries, the game maintained its popularity through the years but became synonymous with older generations as time moved on. However, the game did go on to inspire a gameshow at one point, with National Bingo Night being shown on the Seven Network for a short period in 2007. The show, which was hosted by former Home and Away star Tim Campbell, had an interactive format with the studio audience, contestants, and households all having a chance to win cash prizes.
Of course, in more recent years, Australia’s love of bingo has been given a huge boost by the emergence of online versions of the game. The opportunity to play whenever and wherever has really brought the game back to life for many people, while online bingo is also available in a host of different formats, which means that players have plenty of choice too.
How to play Australian bingo
So while you now have some idea of how bingo has developed as a pastime in Australia, what should you actually expect if you end up playing the game in the country?
Some countries across the world are relatively strict in terms of the type of bingo that is traditionally played, with the UK, for example, regarding 90 Ball as the classic way to enjoy the action. However, in contrast, Australia has generally been quite flexible about the way it chooses to enjoy the game. As such, you can expect to see 90 Ball, 75 Ball and many other variations on offer if you were playing the game Down Under.
Furthermore, if you were playing online, you can also expect to see providers offer a range of promotions which can be ideal for getting your gameplay off to a great start.
Australian bingo calls
Considering its rich history and deep love of the game, it perhaps should not be hugely surprising that Australia and its culture are thought to have had an impact on bingo calls in the past.
Perhaps the most famous example is the traditional call used for number one – ‘Kelly’s Eye’. Many believe this is in fact a reference to the country’s most famous outlaw, Ned Kelly. He is renowned for undertaking a range of crimes in the late 1800’s, and became a folk hero to some before he was ultimately captured and hung by the authorities. However, some also argue that the call is simply slang which emerged in military circles.
A specific type of animal that has a pretty strong link to Australia is mentioned in another bingo call, with the number 55 often being represented by the phrase ‘Snakes Alive’. The country has more than its fair share of the creatures, with the New South Wales Government even revealing that it is home to around 140 species of land-based snakes and 32 which reside in the sea.
In addition, a pop group that has a strong association with Down Under gets referenced in the Australian bingo call for 85 – ‘Staying Alive’. While the Bee Gees were born in the UK, they moved to Queensland and enjoyed their first success in the country before becoming one of the most successful pop groups of all time. The use of ‘Staying Alive’ could understandably be seen as a reference to one of their biggest hits, which featured on the disco-infused soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever.
As you may be able to tell from the last couple of examples, Australian bingo calls tend to be quite similar to those used in the UK for the most part. However, back in 2012, the country’s Daily Telegraph newspaper did a report on the fact that old-school clichés like ‘two fat ladies’ were generally being phased out, while some clubs had also brought an end to having a prayer before their sessions. Many reasons were given for the changes, with some stating it was due to the growing appetite for the game to be faster while others wanted to try and attract younger generations to enjoy the game.
A country in love with bingo
Bingo is a pastime that is much loved across the globe, and Australia as a country has always embraced the excitement of the game. Furthermore, the emergence of online bingo sites has arguably taken its enjoyment of the game to a whole new level.
With the country’s links to the game showing no signs of dwindling, it will be fascinating to see how its culture continues to have an influence on free bingo over the years ahead.