What Is The Difference Between Bingo and Tombola

Bingo and tombola are raffle games that involve completing numbered squares on a ticket. What are the differences between both games?

differences between bingo and tombola
What Is The Difference Between Bingo and Tombola

Bingo and tombola are raffle games that involve completing numbered squares on a ticket. While both games use numbers and tickets, each game has its gameplay mechanic and aesthetic. In this article, we take a close look at bingo and tombola as well as find the differences between the two games.

Tombola Explained

Tombola is a raffle game where participants have one or more numbered cards or tickets. A host, or announcer, calls out one number at a time. If the called number is on the card, participants cover square numbers with plastic pieces (in Italy, players use actual dried beans to mark a number if they are out of the pieces).

There are several rounds in one tombola session, which ends when a player satisfies one of the conditions below.

  • Early Five - Marked the first five numbers of the card.
  • Circle - When a player gets the third number at the top and bottom row as well as the second and fourth number of the middle row.
  • Pyramid - Getting the third number at the top row, second and fourth number on the middle row, and the first, third, and fifth number at the bottom.
  • Top-Line - A player has all five numbers to complete the top row.
  • Full-House - All 15 numbers on the card are called.

When a player completes a round with a ticket that completes one of the winning patterns, they receive a corresponding price to the conditions. Once the prize is rewarded to the winner, the tombola session continues until the next person completes the next winning condition.

For various cultures and nations, Tombola is more than just a simple raffle game. In Italy, it is a Christmas activity held by families and various communities.

Numbers in the game have meaning to Italians such as 25, which is the birth date of Christ and Christmas day. A tombola host will shout "Venticinque - Natale" upon drawing 25. They will also shout "Trentatre - Llʹanne Gesu Cristo" upon drawing 33, which is the number of years Jesus lived. Other meanings the Italians have for numbers include 1 as L'Italia or Italy and 20 as La Festa or feast.

What About Bingo?

Bingo has a similar gameplay as tombola where players mark the number on their card each time a host calls out that number. Apart from the number, the host calls out a letter that corresponds with the number such as B 7 or G 56, or they can sometimes call out the nickname for each bingo number call.

In Bingo, there are up to 75 numbers that a host can draw upon while the Australian and British versions have up to 90 numbers. Each number is connected to each letter to make it easy for participants to scan through their cards for a specific square. Below are the letters and number connections.

  • B 1 - 15
  • I 16 - 30
  • N 31 - 45
  • G 46 - 60
  • O 61 - 75

During a bingo session, the host sets a target pattern for players to form. Players from these winning patterns by marking the corresponding squares on their cards. Anyone who completes the winning pattern with one of their cards and shouts "Bingo" wins the session. After each session, every used card is removed from play and all participants will need to buy new ones for the next session.

Prizes for each session vary with the patterns as well as the number of participants. Simple ones that require only five to ten squares to complete usually provide a low cash prize while ones that require 15 to 25 or the full square offer an incredibly large payout. When a site that offers online bingo for money is full, the payout amount tends to incredibly high.

Tombola vs Bingo

Both games use lottery gameplay that involves random numbers and tickets. Despite having similarities between the two games, there are unique features for both tombola gameplay and bingo.


Tombola cards have 15 numbers with five numbers in three rows while bingo has 25 numbers on a 5x5 grid with a free space in the middle of the N column. While Tombola has the least number of squares required to fill, it can take longer to fill any rows since every type of number fills any space. In bingo, Each column only contains a set of numbers such as B having only 1 to 15 or N containing 31 to 45.

Because of the patterns on the card, it is possible to have a fast session with Bingo if it only involves the numbers on one column. When you play online bingo sessions with simple patterns, the sessions tend to be quick while offering a decent cash prize.   


When a player completes a pattern in Bingo, the game is over and everyone needs to obtain new ones for the next session. However, this is not the case for the tombola. A session continues after a person completes one of the winning patterns. With one session having several rounds, one player can win multiple rounds if they have the winning cards.

Bingo vs Tombola
Bingo vs Tombola

Bingo and Tombola have distinct gameplays and quirks that make them feel different for any player. Regardless of their difference, both lottery games are incredibly fun for any casino patrons looking for slow-burn excitement.

This article was published on May 10, 2021, and last updated on August 9, 2021.