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A Brief History of Bingo


bingo historyBingo is a gambling game that has grown incredibly popular over the last century. This social game of chance sees players shout out “Bingo” when they match patterns on their card in exchange for lucrative prizes. The concept is so simple, but very exciting, which is why the game has stood the test of time.

But, how exactly did this exciting lottery-style gambling game come to exist?

Well, it may surprise you to know that the history of Bingo spans more than five centuries. The game has been around longer than the United States has been recognized as a country – which is insane!

If you are interested in learning the history of Bingo, keep reading. Below we take a brief look at the game’s illustrious story. If all the learning makes you keen for some fun, we have also listed some casinos that offer you the chance to play online bingo games. So, read on and when you’re done, grab a game at an online casino!

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Bingo History Links

bingo a history

The History of Bingo

Origins of the Game (1530 – 1800s)

Italy is considered by many to be the birthplace of Bingo. In 1530, a national lottery game called “Il Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia” was launched. The game, which is still played today, is similar to 90 ball bingo. Early versions of the game saw players get cards and match numbers to those pulled out of a bag.

The Italian lottery game became very popular. In the 18th century, similar games started appearing throughout Europe. In France, a national lottery bingo game called “Le Lotto” was launched in 1778. Cards used in the game were very similar to modern bingo cards. Each featured 27 squares and a 3×9 matrix. (If you have ever played UK bingo, you will be familiar with this card style.)

In the 19th century, Bingo spread to more European countries as well as the United States. In Germany, Bingo was viewed as a children’s game used to facilitate learning.

While in the UK, the game was again viewed as a lottery game. Shortly after the UK adopted Bingo, people in the United States also began playing the game.

Bingo Gets its Name (the 1900s)

Although Bingo had made its way to the United States in the 19th century, the game wasn’t widely known. However, the game saw a boom in popularity during the 1920s and 1930s as it started to spread across the country.

It all started with a man named Hugh J. Ward, creating a standardized version of Bingo to play at carnivals in Pennsylvania. Ward called the game “Beano” and played it with dried beans and cardboard sheets as bingo cards. Soon, the game started spreading to carnivals in states across the Eastern Coast.

In December 1929, a New York toymaker named Edwin Lowe attended a carnival in Atlanta, Georgia, and played Beano for the first time. Lowe was impressed with the game and how excited people in the crowd were to play it. So, he took it back with him to New York.

With the help of Columbia University math professor, Carl Leffler, Lowe made his own Beano cards with the hopes of turning the game into a product he could sell. Lowe created two versions of Beano – a game with 12 cards and a game with 24 cards.

He regularly tested his product by playing the game with his friends. Allegedly, it was during one of these game sessions that the name “Bingo” came to exist. Popular belief suggests that the game’s name was created when one of Lowe’s friends mistakenly yelled “Bingo” instead of “Beano” in excitement after winning.

With a new name, Bingo quickly became an incredibly popular game. The Second World War most likely aided its popularity as the game infiltrated the US Army during the 1940s. With troops from all over the country, avid players took the game home with them when the war ended.

the history of bingo

Online Bingo – Another Boom in Popularity

Following the 1940s, Bingo continued to grow, being played in church halls, nursing homes, casinos, and at a load of charity events as a means of fundraising. It seemed like the game had become as popular as it was ever going to be by the 1970s. After all, it had successfully infiltrated casual gambling culture.

However, then the internet happened.

The first online bingo sites were launched in the mid-1990s. Although online games weren’t prevalent back then, they paved the way for what they would become.

When other popular casino games, such as online poker, started gaining an audience online in the mid-2000s, Bingo also saw a boom in popularity. New gambling websites dedicated entirely to the game launched.

With the development of smartphones and tablets, Bingo soon became readily available on mobile devices, leading to a further boom in popularity. Bingo is now considered to be worth billions of dollars! That’s a massive gain for a game that started as a little lottery-title to raise funds in Renaissance Italy!

Nowadays, it doesn’t matter what your preference is; you can play Bingo however you like – whether it is a church hall or online with your friends!

Bingo History – FAQs

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