Is bingo linked to gambling?

Bingo is the well-known game of chance that most of us have played at some point in our lives. Many of us have spun the lever of the ball machine and are familiar with the flow of the game. It is widely socially accepted, from toy bingo sets to games for adults in bingo halls and online casinos. Bingo can be played money-free, but more often it is played the way it was intended to – by wagering money, either on the round, or by buying tickets. Can online bingo be considered gambling for the involvement of money in the game? While some people claim that bingo is more of a board game, others argue that it is linked to gambling. In this article, we lay out the arguments for and against labelling bingo as gambling. 

Gambling by definition 

To begin with, it is worth defining gambling. Gambling is betting or staking something of value with the hope of gain, like money or material goods, on an event or a contest with an uncertain outcome, the outcome that is determined by chance.

If we look at bingo as a game that involves betting money, then we would say that it is definitely linked to gambling, or rather is gambling by definition.

It is no secret that bingo can be quite costly. Playing online especially, can be either very cheap or very expensive. The most commonly available prices for bingo tickets range from £0.01 to £5 pounds (there is also an opportunity to play in online free bingo rooms, under certain conditions). If you’re someone who likes taking risks and betting high, a couple of hours of online/land-based bingo might set you back quite a bit.

Although money seems to be spent slower when playing bingo than when playing other casino games like slots, bingo could easily be classed as gambling, depending on your intention with the game. 

Perspective – free bingo entry and tickets, is it gambling? 

On the flip side, bingo does not have to involve money and can be played for many other reasons. Firstly, it could be played for the sheer fun of the game. In this case, players will compete without a game/ticket price or any buy-in costs.

Secondly, bingo could be viewed, as it often is, as more of a social occasion than a gamble. The culture surrounding bingo has truly become iconic to the UK identity over the years. People gather to converse, catch up with each other, share a drink, meet new players and, of course, enjoy the game. Bingo is so loved for these reasons that it is not uncommon for entire families to play bingo on the weekends, children involved and no money wagered in the game. A practice like that is a clear indication of bingo being a game of chance and reflex that does not necessarily have to be played in a gambling setup. 


While bingo is what you make it, in the modern world it can definitely be linked to gambling. In general, the classification of bingo will vary between people and their individual preferences when playing. Bingo might be marketed as a form of gambling with material and attractive prizes, but in its heart it is the game of chance that we all know and love!