The History of Bingo

Bingo Page

Bingo Page

Bingo has been around for hundreds of years. Whether you’re a bingo buff, or a complete novice, find out some of its fascinating history.

Bingo has an amazingly long history and the game has been played the world over for centuries. It’s had a bit of resurgence recently and has very much updated its image. Essentially though, the game is still played in the same way today as it always has been. You wait for your numbers to come up in a form of lottery and when you match the winning numbers you’ve won. Bingo! Millions of people play it in different forms and on different media the world over. It has a longevity and appeal unmatched by other games. If you’re a bingo fanatic, or a relative newcomer, read on to discover the history of this fascinating game.

In the Beginning

The first recorded version of the bingo game was in Italy in 1530. Bingo is descended from Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia, the Italian state lottery which has been played every week since then and is still played every Saturday today, though commercial bingo was only legalized in Italy a few years ago! It was introduced to France in the 16th Century and was very much the province of the wealthier French who called it Le Lotto. The Germans took it on board and created their own version in the early 19th Century, but their game was much more focused on education rather than recreation. They used it to teach their children all about maths, spelling and history. Presumably, there was no money involved, as schools don’t tend to teach children how to gamble at the same time as learning about probability and chance!

Changing Over Time

The word ‘bingo’ is thought to come from the early 20th Century. When the game reached America in 1929, it was known as Beano. Hugh J Ward standardized the game and eventually had the Bingo copyright. An American toy salesman, Edwin S Lowe, was interested in the game and was thought to have overheard a player shouting ‘Bingo’ instead of ‘Beano’ by mistake. He decided that this was a much better name for the game and clearly it has stuck. He went on to produce lots of Bingo games, and even apparently employed a maths professor, Carl Leffler,  to help him come up with as many number combinations as possible. Sadly, Leffler went insane, but who knows if this was down to the numbers? A preacher came up with the idea of using bingo helping to raise church funds and started the trend of playing in church halls that has carried on through to the present day.

Modern Day Bingo

The principle is the same with modern day bingo but the execution of the game has changed radically over the last century. It has had quite a stuffy image over the last couple of generations, but contemporary bingo has become exciting stuff. Celebrities love it and you can play in many forms from online to your iPhone. There are large sums to be won with some of the more recent wins topping £5 million on Butler Bingo! It’s played in casinos all round the world and millions of people enjoy it in its various forms. Modern day bingo is big business, and its showing no signs of slowing down, so it’s safe to say that bingo will be part of our future as well as our past. Lucky for some!

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The History of Bingo by Iain Purdie, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

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