The History of Bingo and the Game We Love Today

The history of bingo goes all the way back to 1530 and began with an Italian lottery which still takes place every Saturday in Italy. It was originally called ‘beano’ not bingo and this was due to the fact that the game was previously played by covering numbers with beans.

From its Italian roots, the game became popular in France in the late 1770s and was played by the wealthy. In Germany, a different version of the game arrived in the 1800s but the main purpose was to teach children mathematics and history.

Popularity in the USA

Bingo was made popular by a toy salesman from New York, Edwin S Lowe. In 1929 he discovered the game at a fair in Jacksonville, Georgia. The game was played by selecting numbered discs from a box and players would mark their cards with beans.

When he returned home, Lowe recreated the game for his friends, and it was so popular he decided to turn it into a box game called ‘Beano’. He partnered with a mathematics professor from Columbia University who helped him to increase the number of card combinations and by 1930 they had created 6000 different bingo cards.

The Journey of Bingo Through The Ages

Bingo was the only form of gambling allowed in the British armed services and was called Royal Navy tombola, played from around 1880, and was played in the Army from around 1900 and was called housy-housy.

It was particularly popular during the Great Depression during the 1930s and was even played in some movie theatres where theatre goers would receive a free bingo card with their tickets. In Britain, the establishment of the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 allowed for the formation of lottery clubs and as a result, superseded its popularity in the USA.

Playing Games for a Good Cause

The game became a favourite of churches and organizations to raise funds and is still a well-known fundraising tool. By the 1940s, bingo was available throughout America and continues to increase in popularity, with different variations of the game played in the USA and UK.

Bingo is also known to be good for our minds and it’s been theorized that those who play bingo perform better at some mental activities than those who don’t play the game.

How Bingo Has Evolved

Bingo of course evolved into the casino environment and is now available online too where you can have games via Zoom with friends or create your own virtual game cards. There are many variations of the bingo game today including Quick Shot bingo where numbers are pre-drawn and players receive a sealed pack of cards, Electronic Bingo with bingo-based slot machines and Death Bingo where players who get a bingo are eliminated from the game.

The bingo game we love today has had an interesting past and continues to bring people together.

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