For most people, bingo is a game usually reserved for charity functions and retirement homes. Indeed, the mention of the word evokes images of overly-excited emcees or, perhaps, an unfortunately-named dog.
However, New Jersey residents may be surprised to learn that there are several online casinos in the Garden State that offer bingo games to their players. In fact, players can take advantage of some opportunities for big wins in online bingo games.
If you are interested but haven’t played bingo in many years, look no further. We will walk you through how online bingo works, all of your options in New Jersey, and whether you can play bingo if you’re not in the Garden State.
Free and Real Money Online Bingo
Online bingo made its debut in New Jersey in 2015. The game quickly became the dominant form of bingo in the Garden State, accounting for more than 80% of all the games played in the state.
At present, there are three online casinos in New Jersey that offer an online bingo game. Each site has a separate tab for bingo players, so it’s not hard to find your way there.
Online bingo is a bit different in terms of its mechanics. Generally speaking, players do not buy individual cards. Instead, they buy a set of 6 cards known as a “strip.”
The nice thing about online bingo is that it’s much easier to play lots of cards than in live play. Online bingo sites automatically mark your called numbers, so there’s not much to do after you make your purchase for a game.
One of the main differences between live and online bingo is the sheer number of players that can join an online bingo game. Since there are neither physical nor mechanical issues associated with playing, it’s possible to have games with thousands of people and cards in play.
These gatherings, of course, lead to vastly increased jackpots. Even small drawings have payouts in the thousands, which dwarfs the biggest cash opportunities in most live settings.
Amazingly, you might be able to get into the game without paying anything at all. Two of New Jersey’s casinos, Tropicana and Virgin, offer free bingo games online at various points throughout the day.
These games are rarely eligible for the biggest jackpots. However, they provide an excellent opportunity for those new to online bingo to give the game a try.
Paid games on New Jersey sites range from $1 – $5 to play. They can be a cheap way to put yourself in position for a big win. However, bear in mind that your chances of winning escalate as you buy more tickets for a game.
NJ casinos with online bingo
There are three online casinos in New Jersey that offer bingo. In each case, the variant that you can play is 90-ball bingo, which we’ll explain later. If you’re interested in giving online bingo a try, head to one of the following operators.
Tropicana Online Casino
Tropicana Online Casino was the first online casino to offer bingo in New Jersey. 90-ball bingo launched in 2015 and continues to run every day.
Players have their choice between free, $1, $2, and $5 games. Tropicana advertises every game as offering a Super Jackpot, although these pools vary in size.
Free games run every 30 minutes, so even if you aren’t a big fan of bingo, there’s no reason not to take a shot at one of the jackpots. If you want to try the paid games without risk, use promo code PLAY20 to receive $20 when you sign up.
Virgin Online Casino
Virgin Online Casino is part of Sir Richard Branson’s vast conglomerate. Players who want to try this casino with a “cool” vibe can play 90-ball bingo as part of their experience.
Virgin operates in New Jersey in partnership with Tropicana, and the relationship shows beyond a simple licensing agreement. Indeed, the Virgin bingo option is most identical to the one at its land-based partner.
So, you can play bingo at Virgin for free every half hour. Paid games range in price from $1 to $5.
You can pay for several of those games if you simply sign up. Follow our link above and enter promo code 30BUCKS to receive $30, absolutely free.
Pala Bingo USA
Pala Bingo USA is the third in New Jersey to offer players options for bingo and is a division of Pala Online Casino. Like other bingo options in the state, players can take part in the 90-ball variant onsite.
Pala stands out as a site truly focused on cornering the bingo market in New Jersey. Players who visit Pala will feel an outpouring of customer support and warmth.
Pala is the only bingo site to offer specific bonuses for bingo players. Players can receive free tickets and bonus dollars at Pala Bingo simply for signing up. Use promo code OVBONUS to maximize the amount of dollars going into your new account.
Overall, if bingo is going to be a serious focus for your game, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t take a look at Pala.
How 90 Ball Bingo Works
With all three online casinos offering the 90 Ball version of bingo, it’s important to understand how the variant works. Though it shares traits with the standard 75 ball game, there are some key differences in how play proceeds.
Each game card consists of 27 squares, arranged in a 3×9 (3 rows, 9 columns) grid. In each row, five squares are filled with numbers and four remain blank.
The nine columns correspond to the 9 different batches of numbers that can be called in this type of game. So, column 1 will have numbers from the 1 – 9 batch, column 2 will have numbers from the 10 – 19 batch, and so on. On any one card, no more than 3 numbers from each batch will be used.
As mentioned earlier, 90-ball cards tend to be sold in groups of 6. Each group is called a strip.
Like any bingo game, a caller will announce randomly-drawn numbers between 1 and, in this case, 90. As each number is called, players (or the app) will mark all occurrences of the number in the player’s strips.
How to Read Your Bingo Card
Of course, the obvious question is how to read your card and determine if you’ve won. After all, the whole point of the game is to call a bingo and take home the prize for that drawing.
In most 75-ball games, there is usually a single winner who cries bingo after marking all of their numbers in the prescribed pattern. While there can be multiple winners if the cries occur simultaneously, the game stops as soon as at least one valid bingo gets called.
In 90-ball, the blank spaces count as if they have already been filled. Meanwhile, players can achieve one of three winning conditions during the course of a game:
- Any line: all five numbers in a single row of a card are marked
- Any 2 lines: all five numbers in two rows of a card are marked
- Full house: all five numbers in all three rows of a card are marked
It is possible for the same player to win all three phases of a 90 ball game. Generally speaking, full house winners tend to be eligible for larger prizes.
As is the case with standard bingo, simultaneous wins will result in the division of a prize amount. However, in some ways, 90-ball is a far more forgiving variant than its 75-ball cousin.
Can I play online bingo in PA?
New Jersey is not the only state with online casinos. In fact, its large neighbor to the west, Pennsylvania, joined the online casino fraternity in 2019. So, Pennsylvanians might be wondering if they can play online bingo there.
Unfortunately, the answer is: not at this time. Pennsylvania has a wide array of gaming options that players can access through their devices, but bingo is not allowed to be one of them at this time.
However, given the period of general revival that Pennsylvania is undergoing with regard to gambling, you can’t rule out the possibility.
Online bingo vs. Electronic Bingo
As it turns out, New Jersey is the only state in the union with legal online bingo. Every other state either does not offer the game as part of its online gambling suite, or simply does not have online gambling itself.
Now, if you visit the sections of your state’s laws regarding bingo, you may see mention of “electronic bingo.” At first glance, you might feel excited that your state actually does offer an online version of the game.
Sadly, however, electronic bingo is not the same thing as online bingo. Instead, electronic bingo refers to computerized bingo games that live bingo halls can run in conjunction with their paper-based games. These computers are handheld, fairly clunky, and only allow you to play during the live rounds at the hall itself.
You may also see references to “instant bingo,” which might make you think that there’s an online component. However, instant bingo refers to paper-based games that are commonly known as “pull tabs.” They are small, perforated packages that you buy to participate in mini-games, which are separate from the main bingo calls.
These terms can be confusing at first glance. Make sure to read your state’s laws about bingo carefully, but for right now, New Jersey is the only place with truly online bingo.
Bingo and US Gambling Laws
As it happens, bingo’s legal status in general puts both people and governments in a bit of a bind. After all, it’s a traditionally family-oriented activity, but the inclusion of cash prizes renders it a type of gambling, too.
Generally speaking, the federal government takes a rather severe opinion of any type of game that could be considered gambling. The Wire Act of 1961 rendered any betting across state lines to be illegal, and even activities as innocuous as bingo are usually considered to be affected by that decision.
Still, as is the case with sports betting now, bingo has remained an acceptable form of gambling as long as it is administered by individual states. Some states have completely legalized bingo, some have made it completely illegal, and some have straddled the line by allowing it for charitable gaming only.
So, here is the situation regarding bingo for every state in the US:
- Alabama – Live bingo is permitted as charitable gaming in multiple locations throughout the state. Electronic bingo is in a murky legal situation, with seemingly-legal bingo halls finding themselves on the receiving end of law enforcement raids and equipment destruction.
- Alaska – Alaskans may play in charitable land-based bingo halls throughout the state. Operators of these venues must either be qualified charitable organizations or tribal interests.
- Arizona – Arizona bingo is only permitted when conducted by a charitable organization. However, Arizona does maintain some unusual statutes regarding player behavior, including the amount of time a player can play in a day (12 hours) and the number of times per week they can play (5 times).
- Arkansas – Arkansans can play bingo if the game is run by a qualified organization under state law. Qualified organizations include those who are “nonprofit tax-exempt religious, educational, veterans, fraternal, service, civic, medical, volunteer rescue service, volunteer firefighters organization, or volunteer police organization that has been in continuing existence as a nonprofit tax-exempt organization in this state for a period of not less than five (5) years immediately prior to conducting the game of bingo or raffles.”
- California – California allows selected nonprofit organizations to offer charity bingo games. The state caps the maximum prize for these games at $500.
- Colorado – Colorado nonprofits can run bingo games. However, they must have operated for five or more years before applying for a license.
- Connecticut – Charitable gaming is allowed to be conducted by approved nonprofits in the state. There are actually three classes of permits that allow different frequencies of days in which the organization can hold a bingo game.
- Delaware – It is possible for charitable organizations to offer bingo. Interestingly, one of the tenets of the state’s bingo regulation is that the licensee may not own the venue in which the game will occur.
- Florida – Charitable organizations and, oddly, homeowner’s associations may offer non-profit bingo games in Florida. However, the prizes and frequency of bingo is subject to especially stringent limits, with no jackpots in excess of $250 and no more than two days of play per week.
- Georgia – Charitable bingo is, by the state’s own admission, one of the few forms of legal gambling in the state. Regulations limit prizes to no more than $1,500 in a single session and $3,000 in a week.
- Hawaii – There is no legal bingo of any kind in Hawaii. It is one of only three states that does not allow bingo to be played.
- Idaho – Bingo is the only charitable game allowed by law in the state. Idaho bans other seemingly-innocuous charity events, such as casino nights or poker runs.
- Illinois – Illinois residents can take part in charitable bingo games throughout the state. However, state law does not permit payment to even the people running the game, which could limit how many workers that games could find.
- Indiana – Indiana statutes permit qualified organizations – nonprofits, etc. – to conduct bingo games throughout the state. Under certain conditions, qualified organizations may not even need to obtain a license from the state to operate an event.
- Iowa – Iowa allows charitable organizations to apply for licenses and operate bingo games in the state. However, they can offer games on no more than three days per week and 15 occasions in a month.
- Kansas – Kansas has provisions for both charitable bingo and instant bingo in the state. The former is the standard game, while the latter is related to pull-tab games and other similar forms of bingo.
- Kentucky – Kentucky allows charitable organizations to offer various types of games in order to raise money. Depending on their level of revenue, they may either be exempt from any kind of tax levy, or they may have to pay.
- Louisiana – Louisiana has one of the more liberal policies in the nation when it comes to charitable bingo. Not only may a charitable organization offer it, but allowed prize amounts are much higher than elsewhere, and it is possible to find electronic bingo machines in the state.
- Maine – Maine allows nonprofit organizations to offer bingo games to citizens. Prizes may not be over $400, and no one session can award more than $1,400. Unusually, the statute uses the words “bingo” and “beano” interchangeably.
- Maryland – Maryland allows typical charitable organizations to offer bingo games. However, each county in the state has its own set of permitting rules for offering the game, so what’s required to offer bingo is extremely location-specific.
- Massachusetts – Massachusetts charitable organizations can hold bingo games as fundraising efforts. The law even allows for jackpot prizes up to $3,000.
- Michigan – Michigan nonprofits are able to apply for one of three types of licenses to offer bingo. There are large, small, and special licenses, and each has different rules about their prize amounts and frequency of events.
- Minnesota – Minnesota allows various groups to hold bingo events in the state. Organizations can get licenses to be exempt or excluded, and the decision is based upon the level of revenue that they generate from their games.
- Mississippi – Mississippi charities can use bingo to bolster their coffers if they get one of three classes of licenses from the state. One unique provision of these licenses is that there are prescribed minimums for their hours per session.
- Missouri – Missouri allows charitable organizations to hold bingo games in the state. Interestingly, nonprofits may choose between separate licenses for bingo events and pull tab-only events.
- Montana – Montana is one of the few states where bingo is allowed as a general activity, rather than simply a nonprofit one. Licensed gaming operators can offer bingo in Montana as part of its for-profit offering.
- Nebraska – Nebraska’s charitable groups can apply for licensure to offer bingo games in the state. State law defines two classes for bingo operations, and basically, it boils down to whether the group will make $100,000 or more in a year of events.
- Nevada – In gambling haven Nevada, charity organizations can offer bingo if they receive a state license to do so. It appears that bingo is truly a family game here, where those under 18 can play if their parents purchase the tickets.
- New Hampshire – New Hampshire’s charitable groups can offer bingo within the state lines. Interestingly, by law, those under 18 cannot play bingo except if they are at a carnival.
- New Jersey – Needless to say, there are numerous opportunities to play bingo, both live and online, in New Jersey. However, for live bingo, no single prize is permitted to be in excess of $250, and no set of prizes on a license can exceed $1,000.
- New Mexico – New Mexico’s charitable organizations can offer bingo as a way to generate revenue for themselves. However, they must have two years of service as a nonprofit under their belts before they can apply for a license.
- New York – New York allows its charity groups to offer bingo games. However, anyone under the age of 18 is explicitly banned from playing – even if their parents are supervising.
- North Carolina – North Carolina does allow bingo halls to conduct games for nonprofit organizations. Interestingly, North Carolina also allows so-called beach bingo, in which drawings do not offer prizes worth more than $10.
- North Dakota – North Dakota allows charitable organizations to offer bingo games in the state. In a strange twist, players must be 18 to play bingo, but 21 to play pull tab games.
- Ohio – Ohio allows charitable bingo to proceed in the state. In fact, there are three levels of licensure for the practice, including a Type III license, which allows for bingo play up to 12 consecutive hours in a single day.
- Oklahoma – Oklahoma is home to casinos that offer bingo games, but also allows charitable groups to run their own versions. The law also allows for a non-standard form of the game called “U-PIK-EM,” in which the players themselves can designate the numbers on their cards.
- Oregon – Oregon does allow charitable organizations to hold bingo events in the state. However, somewhat unusually, state regulations limit the amount of handle, rather than revenue, that an event may generate.
- Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania does permit bingo to be offered in a variety of ways. License options in the Keystone State include the ability to run events no more than twice per week, a three-day consecutive event, a ten-day consecutive event at a fair, or a bingo game where prizes aren’t worth any money.
- Rhode Island – Rhode Island allows charitable organizations to hold their own bingo events. In a comparatively generous move, nonprofits in the state can hire people to run the game for them, even if the person they hire works for another nonprofit.
- South Carolina – South Carolina, despite being a strongly anti-gambling state, allows charity groups to run their own bingo nights. Interestingly, licenses are granted without the need for renewal UNLESS there is a change in the operation or venue.
- South Dakota – South Dakotan nonprofits can offer bingo games if they provide thirty days’ written notice to the state about their intent to do so. Many different groups are eligible to offer bingo, including campaign groups for political candidates in the state.
- Tennessee – Tennessee is one of the least gambling-friendly states in the country, and that stance extends to its charitable gaming. Bingo games are not permitted to be offered, and even the few events that can happen (raffles, etc.) are only allowed once per year.
- Texas – Texas does allow non-profitable organizations to offer bingo within the state. Although state law prescribes a prize cap of $750 and an event cap of $2,500 for normal games, the caps do not apply to pull tabs, for some reason.
- Utah – Utah is one of three states to ban outright the practice of playing bingo. Bingo proponents don’t need to feel singled out, however – all forms of gambling are expressly forbidden inside state lines.
- Vermont – Vermont has provisions for charitable gaming inside state lines. Its general limit for prizes is $400, but in an unusually gentle move, there are several exceptions where organizations can offer prizes far in excess of that number.
- Virginia – Virginia permits seasoned nonprofits to offer bingo games in order to raise money. Interestingly, it is possible to be eligible for pay as a bingo caller in Virginia if you acquire a license from the state.
- Washington – Washington has provisions to allow charitable bingo in the state. However, it also allows for these organizations to operate without a license so long as they don’t go over the limit for the number of events they have.
- West Virginia – Charitable bingo is available in West Virginia. However, organizations cannot offer more than two bingo events per week on their license and cannot run a bingo session for longer than six hours.
- Wisconsin – Wisconsin does permit its charitable organizations to offer bingo games throughout the year. However, each bingo occasion must not offer prizes in excess of $1,000 total – even if more than one licensee is involved with the event.
- Wyoming – Wyoming allows charity groups to hold their own bingo events in the state. However, any workers who help out on these events must do so as volunteers.