Virtual bingo is like in-person bingo, but it can be played in a few different formats:
One-way, webinar style online bingo: You'll see the host sharing the rules and calling out numbers, but you won't interact with other players face-to-face. This is how we set up our world-record-breaking free bingo event, to help manage the thousands of players.
All virtualonline bingo: Everyone is playing separately from a virtual bingo link, with the number either called automatically, or one person is designated as host. You only see the game board, not the players or host.
What about Online Bingo Cards?
Plus, bingo cards can be different too. Some options
Printable bingo cards you provide: Send out some free online bingo cards to your players in advance so they can print them out.
Themed bingo cards: Play themed bingos! In this case, you'd send out themed bingo cards to everyone in advance of the games (so make sure you get your RSVPs in). Check out our Halloween bingo cards below from last October.
Free for all bingo: During our Televeda bingo games, we've had everything: bingo cards we've sent, digital cards, written-out cards...we've really see it all. We've even had 90-call bingo with players from the UK! Whatever is it, just make sure the formatting is fair (does everyone have a free space?) and you're good to go.
Hitting all aspects of your health, bingo (whether it’s virtual or in person) is the way to go! Bingo already made the transition to the online world before social distancing made it necessary, but some of your seniors may not have had this virtual experience yet. By following these virtual bingo guidelines, you’ll help seniors embrace technology, make friends, and have fun!
How to Host the Best Online Bingo Game
Note: this bingo game doesn't have to be completely virtual. You can make it a hybrid event too to get members involved in person and online!
Setting Up Your Virtual Bingo Game
To begin your online bingo game, you’ll need to get online! No matter what live stream platform you’re using, there are a few things to be aware of when planning an online bingo game for older adults.
1. Audio: Audio quality matters for any streaming event, but especially when it’s for senior citizens. Your viewers may be hard of hearing, so make sure they can hear you and others well, and have a way of notifying you if the audio quality has degraded.
It’s also important to decide how you want to moderate the audio of players. If you have a large group, or any group, muting your players can help everyone hear the numbers as they’re called, but can limit interaction. So, finding a balance between running a game smoothly, and keeping your audience engaged, is important.
When calling numbers, we suggest announcing the call, and then stating each of the number separately. For example, I-19, call: "I, 19. I, one, nine."
2. Video: Determining how to share the numbers with your players is important. For one, you can just announce it after you pull a physical ball from a real bingo set. In that case, audio is incredibly important here (see above)!
You can also use a simple whiteboard to write out the numbers as they’re announced. This may be helpful for those that are hard of hearing.
Or, you can use a free online bingo player, like Let's Play Bingo! Let's Play Bingo shows all the calls as they come up, the last 5 calls, and auto-calling. Let's Play Bingo is a great online option that makes it easier for you to manage the bingo game, and for seniors to see the numbers as they're called. Win-win!
Whatever you choose to do here, just make sure it’s visible!
3. Platform: It’s important both you and your players know how to use whatever platform you’ve chosen to host your game. There are pros and cons of many of them, so do a little research before you start. It needs to be senior-friendly, and there can be some particulars to that.
We make sure to balance heightened security with ease of use, so that seniors are comfortable using our technology. We're able to share the Let's Play Bingo screen, while also interacting with each of our seniors.
Virtual Bingo Logistics: Top Tips for Making Your Bingo Night the Best
To play bingo successfully, you need your materials, and you need to make sure your seniors do too!
You’ll need a bingo set, so you can roll and choose the balls, or an online bingo player. They will need printable bingo cards, and either a maker, set of chips, or even coins they can reuse. They’ll also need access to free bingo card sites so they can print them out, or the staff as their community can.
Though having a large group is great, a game with more manageable sizes will be more fun and engaging because it keeps it intimate and allows for conversation and friendship creation. You don’t want seniors to feel overwhelmed, or intimidated to join in because of the group size, so keep that in mind with organizing your virtual bingo games.
Multiple games of the week or at different times of the day can be a good idea to manage game size, as well as give players different options to join based on their schedule.
Using large call-ins, such as through Zoom for example, you may have to mute everyone to keep the audio down, which definitely makes it tough for someone to announce “Bingo!” We suggest that if you do mute your players, make sure to let them know how to alert you if they give bingo, and then unmute everyone so they can celebrate together when someone wins!
Prizes are more challenging with online games, but make sure to congratulate the winners. At Televeda, we do social media shoutouts to show our support and how proud we are of our players!
We also give prizes each month to the most wins, the biggest smile, or the sassiest player! Important: if you’re giving out gift cards or any other money-based prizes, make sure you are complying with local gambling laws to keep you and your players safe!
A Full Year of Themed Bingo Games You Can Play with Seniors
Online bingo is fun no matter how you play it, but it can also be exciting to switch up the games a bit!
Here are 12 ideas—one for each month—with fun and different ways to host your free virtual bingo games all year long!
January: Play a New Years Eve themed bingo with a champagne cheers every time someone wins. Tell all your players to bring out champagne, sparkling apple juice, or just some water in a glass so you can all cheers to each other's wins, and the new year. Make it extra fun by asking each player one of their New Year's resolutions during the game.
February: Bring extra love to your virtual bingo players with Valentine's Day Bingo! Before the game begins, have each of the players come up with 1-2 words that relate to Valentine's Day (heart, love, flowers, chocolate, etc.). Write these words down along with those who said them, and then in between each game or win, pick one of these words from a hat to get an extra winner.
March: Get lucky with St. Patrick’s Day online bingo. In advance, send out bingo cards to your players with the letters "LUCKY" instead of "BINGO" and make sure that's what they shout out every time they win. Bonus for wearing green!
April: Depending on your audience, April has a wide variety of themed virtual bingo options. Easter, Passover, or Earth Day are all great ways to spice up your bingo game. For an Earth Day online bingo, have your players come prepared with facts about the Earth, sustainability, and nature to share. Bring some yourself, as well as some ways we can all practice Earth Day every day!
May: It's Spring Fling bingo! Send your online bingo players a spring-themed bingo board in advance of the game. You can either make your own (fill the board with tulips, baby birds, and rainbows) or download some online. Such a fun way to get excited for some warmer weather!
June: Time for a summer show-and-tell. Players should bring something summer themed to this online bingo game, either something they've found, or a picture of a fun summer memory to share.
July: Let's get patriotic! All players can show their red, white, and blue pride with beads, outfits, or just flag waving. Be prepared with some fun facts about the 4th of July to share. For example, did you know that celebrating the 4th wasn't a national holiday until more than 100 years after signing the Declaration of Independence?
August: Did you know that Friendship Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of August? To celebrate Friendship Day virtual-bingo style, have each player pair up with one another. That means whenever one of them wins, so does the other! Double wins always makes a fun day.
September: Let's go back to school with some Back-to-School themed bingo. This means expanding your online bingo game with some new players: kids! At Televeda, we've paired up with school children across the country for a cross-generational appreciation of bingo! Catch the news feature on it here!
October: It's the spookiest month of the year, and this theme is easy: have all your players dress up for halloween, whether in full costume, or just a fun accessory. Bonus points if they can show pictures of them dressed up in their youth! See above for a fun bingo card idea!
November: A wonderful, heart-warming bingo is Thanksgiving Bingo. Start the game by going around to the players and have each of them say one thing they are thankful for. This sets the tone for a lovely online bingo game.
December: Last, but not least, comes a holiday-themed virtual bingo night! Have players dress up in their favorite ugly sweaters, and play a fun game of "Never Have I Ever" holiday edition between each round. Have each player hold up 3 fingers, and then list out some "naughty" holiday-based activities (e.g. sneaking a look at presents, breaking an ornament, avoiding a family member at a holiday party). For every item they've done, they have to put down a finger. Have your players come up with some ideas on their own. This version of virtual bingo is sure to get some great laughs.
Free Online Bingo Games are a Great Socialization Opportunity for Senior Citizens
Ready to host your own online bingo game right now? Or want to play with us? televëda hosts our bingo games every week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 1 pm MST. Sign up yourself or a loved one today for our two-week free trial, and join us to have fun and make friends at our virtual bingo game for seniors!
One last note: it’s important to make your virtual bingo game engaging, exciting, and personalized. Keep the energy high, make eye contact through the camera, and use your participants’ names if you can.
The point of virtual bingo for seniors is to keep them socializing and having fun. And, they get all those great physical and mental benefits we talked about!