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During the 2016 holiday season, Virtue Fusion hosted what is widely regarded as the single largest bingo promotion in the game’s history: a one-million-pound bingo game. The prize for a full house in this 90-ball game was £500,000, the prize for two lines was £200,000, and the prize for one line was £100,000. (all prices in British pounds). The remainder of the £200,000 was divided as follows: £100,000 was awarded to cards with 1TG/2TG, and £100,000 was awarded to cards that did not win. This game cost £2 to play and offered the chance to win hundreds of thousands of pounds (but not the entire million), and because the full house prize was split between two lucky players, each of them ended up with an additional $250,000 in their pockets.
But is it even remotely possible for someone to win a million pounds simply by playing bingo?
The possibility of winning one million pounds while playing bingo is nothing new; in fact, a large number of bingo sites either currently advertise or have advertised in the past that they offer bingo games with one million pounds in prizes. Is it possible, however, to win a million pounds by playing online bingo games?
The Biggest Bingo Wins in the Past
There have been several instances since 2008 in which players have won more than one million pounds on a bingo game. Before the rules were changed, each of these players won the platinum jackpot in the National Bingo Game. The National Bingo Game is NOT played online; rather, it is a linked version of bingo played concurrently in a large number of bingo halls throughout the United States. A player could not win that much today; the maximum jackpot was £250,000 when the original version of this article was written, but the rules were changed again in April of 2018, and the maximum jackpot was reduced to just $50,000.
Big Prizes in Online Bingo
Although there have been several reports of players at online bingo sites winning multi-million-pound sums, the most notable of which was the £5.8 million won at Butlers Bingo in December 2012, these wins have ALL been the result of playing progressive jackpot slots rather than actual bingo. The largest jackpot ever won from an online bingo game was £510,000 in 2012, when someone won Bejeweled Bingo (90 balls) in 38 calls at Jackpot Joy. For the Virtue Fusion £1M game to break this record, the full house must be won by one person only, and that person must also win at least one of the line prizes. This would be required to break the record.
Before the Christmas 2016 game, which offered a guaranteed jackpot of one million pounds, the largest prize that could be won in an online bingo game was significantly less. While larger sums were occasionally advertised, they were always either the total of all three prizes in a 90-ball game, the total of the prizes to be won over an evening or a weekend, or – most commonly – a progressive, room, or sliding jackpot that will only be paid out if someone wins bingo in a specified number of calls. Virtue Fusion and 888 had both run network promotions involving massively linked games with a £50,000 top prize.
How the Progressive and Individual Room Jackpots Work
Progressive and room jackpots can be activated for specific bingo games, all games in a single room, or the entire bingo site. The jackpot is distributed to a player who wins a bingo game with a predetermined number of calls or fewer. Individual room jackpots can be predetermined amounts or continuously accumulating totals. Progressive jackpots are those that continue to grow with each game in which they are not won, and they are funded by a tax levied on ticket sales. The fewer the required calls, the less frequently the jackpot will be triggered; in fact, the pot is not uncommon to go unclaimed for months or even years at a time.
An escalator jackpot is a variation of a room or progressive jackpot in which the number of calls required to win is increased at pre-announced intervals (once a day, or once an hour throughout the evening) until someone wins the jackpot. This can happen once a day or once every hour throughout the evening. One of the most important things to remember about progressive jackpots is that they are real amounts of money that WILL eventually be won by someone (even if it takes years). This is NOT the case with a progressive jackpot.
How Sliding Jackpots Work and Are Played
The list of prizes that can be won in a sliding jackpot game is published in advance and has no relation to the number of tickets sold; rather, the prize is determined by the number of balls that must be collected before the game is called bingo. The Dragonfish network, for example, hosts a sliding jackpot game three times per week. The top prize in this game is one million pounds, which can be won by calling bingo between 24 and 40 times. After 40 calls, the prize will begin to decrease by one with each subsequent ball, reaching a low of £5000 after 50 calls.
Following that, the prize decreases (with minor variations between the three games) until there are 54 calls, at which point it reaches the guaranteed amount (which is £1000 for the Wednesday game, £1500 for the Friday game, and £500 for the Saturday game – 1000 times the ticket price in each case), and this is the amount that is paid out regardless of the number of tickets sold if there are 54 or more balls in play when bingo is called. At Dragonfish, there is a published list of winners dating back about 5 years. This list reveals that the payout is usually £1000, £1500, or £500; the only significant recorded wins are £35,000 in June 2015 for a coverall completed in 45 calls, and £75,000 in July 2016 for a coverall completed in 44 calls.
This regular game, which was only available at Circus Bingo, is another example of a progressive jackpot. The main prize was contingent on the player getting bingo in 41 calls or less, and the guaranteed prize was reached after 49 calls.