The Philippines offer several options for playing one of the nation’s favorite games of chance: bingo.
Bingo is one of the first things that come to mind when one thinks about Filipino gambling. Few countries have such a love for this game, which often generates the biggest part of the state’s total gambling revenues. Maybe this is why bingo in the Philippines is so different and why locals chose to create their own version of the game, resulting in the flashy, funny, fabulous Filipino bingo.
Running almost 200 dedicated bingo halls across the country, the government-controlled gambling monopoly – called the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) – makes sure that local gamblers have plenty of opportunities to play their favorite game. While most players still prefer to gather in large bingo halls, where lights and modern boards catch their eyes, some of them turn to the more convenient online bingo sites, which they can access from the comfort of their own homes.
The Cagayan Freeport area has several online bingo operators licensed under Filipino gambling laws. They certainly compensate for the fact that PACGOR’s online casino does not include real-money bingo games. And luckily, bingo fans always have the option of accessing foreign websites, as many of them accept players from the Philippines.
Charity’s game of chance
Pinoy Bingo was inspired by National Bingo Night and features mini-games such as:
• Bingo 500 – where players aim to have ball numbers add up to 500
• 9 Ball – where players aim to eliminate balls 1 to 9
• High 7: The contestant has to draw six balls bearing the number 7
• Around the Philippines – where 12 place names are listed and players have to eliminate them by guessing if the next drawn ball is odd or even, or if the text is red or black
Interestingly enough, bingo was brought to the Philippines by Christian missionaries. It was the churches that contributed t the spread of this popular game across the country and even today, bingo is mostly used for charity. The game is frequently used by religious organizations for fundraising and countries running bingo operations often donate a percentage of their income to charitable organizations.
It wasn’t long before the Filipino people came up with their own special version of the beloved game. Instead of balls, they have small chips with numbers on them, and instead of a round basket, the chips are drawn from baskets shaped like bottles. A pattern is determined before the beginning of the game and whoever manages to complete it gets the big cash prize.
To make everything more special, the organizers sometimes add a special twist to the game. This means that, instead of simply calling the numbers as they’re drawn, they shout out a witty or funny phrase. Of course, players know beforehand that this is associated with a specific number.
Apart from the prizes, many players adore the game for the general atmosphere it creates, as bingo is played in large, shiny halls, with modern electric boards that show the winning pattern, as well as the numbers called. And since the game is so popular, most of the country’s casinos have regular bingo nights.
Shower of Millions and Pinoy Bingo
Taking advantage of the game’s popularity, PAGCOR sponsored the country’s first e-linked bingo game. Entitled “Shower of Millions Bingo”, the event took place on June 12, 2013 and was broadcasted from the World Trade Center in Pasay City. It offered a total cash prize worth PHP 12.4 million.
Thousands of Filipinos participated in the event, playing from Metro Manila and the 10 Casino Filipino branches. The game turned out to be a huge success, as nine players became instant millionaires after winning major prizes. Eight of them won PHP 1 million each, while one very lucky gambler got to take home the PHP 2 million grand bingo jackpot.
And what would bingo be without the special televised events that attract millions of players? Well, the Philippines even have their own popular bingo show, similar to ABS-CBN’s National Bingo Night.
Pinoy Bingo offers a night of bingo and mini-games where people from the audience compete against a contestant from the studio, in an attempt to win a game of bingo. These events are especially popular among fans of the game, as they’re usually hosted by famous people and local celebrities.
Looking to the future: mobile bingo
While traditional bingo continues to remain a personal favorite for Filipino players, online and mobile bingo sites are slowly but surely gaining popularity. These services have the advantage of being easy to access and to use. And with mobile devices becoming a part of the everyday life, more and more gamblers are choosing to play on the go.
Mobile casinos, slots and bingo have already taken over the Western European market and they are coming to Asia as well. Unlike other Asian countries, where foreign operators are blocked, Filipino gambling laws are quite permissive and embrace the world of online and mobile bingo. And why wouldn’t they? Local players certainly love the game!