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History of Bingo

Bingo was at one point was associated with little old ladies in church halls playing a game for charity, but this fun and exciting game has evolved in the past decade into a leisure activity enjoyed by millions. Whether it was the spread of the popularity of bingo halls or the explosion of the online casino industry, bingo has made a comeback and is now a game to be reckoned with. Bingo is now played around the world both in bingo halls and other gaming venues, and also at hundreds of online casinos that offer this exhilarating game.

History of Bingo

Origins of Bingo

Bingo can be traced back as early as the mid 1500’s to a lotto-type game that was played in Italy. When Italy became a united country in 1530, the Italian National Lottery (Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia) was formed. This game became a regular feature of Italian culture and has been held without many breaks on a weekly basis to this day. At present, the national lottery brings in about 75 million dollars annually to the government’s budget.

The popularity of the lottery spread to France in the 1770’s and became an established game (Le Lotto) amongst the French gentry. The Germans also got wind of the game and decided that they would also jump on the bandwagon and play this great game – but did so with an educational twist by using it to help students learn math, spelling and history.


Bingo finally reached the shores of North America in 1929 where it became known as Beano. The game was first played at a carnival near Atlanta, Georgia and was discovered by a New York toys salesman, Edwin Lowe. Lowe had arrived at the carnival by chance and was enthralled by the popularity of the Beano stand at the carnival. The stand was full of people who each held a card listing a series of numbers. The caller would remove wooden disks from a box and call out the number, while the crowd eagerly checked to see whether their card contained that number. If so, they placed a bean on the number. The first person to cover their card’s numbers with beans screamed out “Beano” and was the winner.

At the end of the night’s play, the organizer was approached by Lowe who told him that while traveling with a carnival through Germany he came across the game called Lotto. He had decided to make a few changes in the way the game was played and bring it back to the United States as part of the local carnival circuit.

Lowe decided to try out the game for himself and after purchasing some beans, cards and a rubber stamp, he created a home-version of the game. He invited a number of friends over and tried the game out on them. The results were as expected – the crowd loved the game and one excited player even managed to rename the game for generations to come. When the woman had completed her card, she was so excited, jumped up and got tongue-tied: instead of screaming BEANO, she screamed BINGO. The name stuck!

American Market

Lowe managed to develop the game and market it successfully in the American market. The game was copied into several forms but the original idea was always the same. The generic name of bingo was attributed to all the versions of the game.

Lowe was also approached by a priest from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, who thought that the game of bingo could be a great way to raise funds for his parish. In order to facilitate community playing, Lowe realized that he needed to produce mass combinations of the number cards. With the help of an elderly mathematician, Lowe eventually produced a combination of 6,000 cards. The cards ended up costing Lowe thousands of dollars and also costing the mathematician his sanity.

The news of the success of the fundraising ability of bingo spread like wildfire. By 1934, there were an estimated 10,000 games of bingo a week being played and Lowe’s firm was working at a crazy pace in order to produce all the cards and games required – thousands of employees, nine floors of office space and 64 printing presses working 24/7.

The public image of bingo has always managed to stay ‘clean’ and ‘sin-free’ as opposed to several other betting games. Until recently the game was primarily staged by churches and charity organizations in the United States. The legality of the game and the stakes being offered vary from state to state. Bingo is usually played on a weekly basis for relatively modest stakes, but occasionally the last game of a season will include a progressive jackpot option.

Commercial Bingo

Commercial bingo is now played in casinos (in Nevada) and in Native American bingo halls. The more established commercial operators play bingo by linking up telephonically with dozens of their clubs. This move may increase the prize money, but it also greatly reduces the chance of winning due to the increased number of players. Commercial bingo halls are now also very popular in the United Kingdom, having become a hit with the local youth.

Online Bingo

Since the advent of the online casino industry about a decade ago, the game of bingo was also able to spread to places that had never been exposed to organized bingo halls and the like. The globalization of bingo took place in a very short time, and the online casino industry was a powerful contributing factor. Unlike in bingo halls, balls are not used to draw the numbers for online bingo, but rather a system called a random number generator.

One of the unique features of online bingo is that the casinos offer a chat monitor where players can interact with each other from remote locations. Speaking during land-based bingo is a big no-no, but technology has allowed the social aspect of bingo to continue during online games. Online casinos generally offer a wide selection of games, and bingo is one of these options. With over 2,000 online casino sites currently on the internet, bingo has never been more popular.

Posted by Bingo Journey