History & Origins of Bingo

BINGO Updated on: 6 September 2018

Bingo is quite old, so much so that the exact origins of this game are still vague. The game is centuries old, and experts credited with tracking this game’s origins agree that bingo most likely began in 16th century Italy. As with other popular casino games, bingo then became popular in Europe, before turning into a global phenomenon.

But the game was not as it is today during its early years. It went through lots of transformations to become the addictive simplistic social game you see today. In this article, I look at some of these changes, and how they eventually gave us the modern version of the game.

1. Learn about the History of Bingo

Although the name Lotto may mean an entirely different thing today, this word was the original name for bingo. In Italian, Lotto means chance or fate. This game was first played in Italy in the 16th century, before the French took it up in the 1770s.

The French called it “Le Lotto”, and it was popular among the well off French citizens. It was around this time that the bingo game consisting of three rows and nine columns was introduced to the world. Germany also introduced their own version of the game, but as a game to help children learn math, know how to spell, and learn some history.

In the original version of the game, when it was called lotto, a caller ha to draw 90 numbered wooden chips from a bag, each at a time. The player who would be lucky to cover an entire row first would end up as the winner in this game.

The lottery game on which bingo is based has been tracked as far back as 1530. It was called “Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia”. And this is the surprising part – it is still played in Italy every Saturday!

Bingo History In the US

But how did the bingo game we play today began? It as invented in America, with Italian Lotto as its inspiration. Edwin S. Lowe, a toy salesman and an entrepreneur, saw the immense potential this game had at a carnival in Atlanta.

This version of the game was called Beano, because the players would mark the numbers off their cards using beans and scream “Beano” if they won in order to claim their winnings. To win, a player had to cover an entire row.

After going back to the East Coast, Lowe introduced the game to his friends, but one of the players, rather than yelling “Beano!” screamed “Bingo!” Lowe decided to promote the game under this new name. Soon after, the game was being played throughout the US.

Lowe even went on to hire a math professor from Columbia University to help him introduce more winning combinations to the game. The professor, Carl Leffler, came up with 6,000 different bingo cards to ensure that there weren’t too many repetitions and hence conflicts in case many people got the winning pattern at once.

The popularity of the game was boosted further when churches realized that the game could be used to raise charity funds. This happened in the early 20th century when a Catholic priest from Pennsylvania approached Lowe with the idea. The game also had a strong social element as bingo rooms were established where fans of the game could go and socialize when not enjoying the game with other players and friends.

Church bingo made the game more popular than ever. In 1934, there were about 10,000 bingo games being played each week. And because of its ability to help with charitable causes, bingo got a pass when other casino games faced bans in many states. And it was not just the churches that used the game to raise funds, but non-profit organizations as well.

Nevertheless, bingo was taken up by casinos in Nevada. Some Native American tribes also introduced the game in their casinos. The broad reach of this game is the reason why bingo players spend nearly $100 million dollars each week on this game in North America.

The Birth of Online Bingo

When it was finally clear to the world that internet was the path to the future of gambling, casinos took little time in making popular games like bingo available over the internet. Many people can hardly contain their desire to play this game; and waiting until they leave the house to take part in a bingo session was no longer a necessity with internet available to regular people in their own homes.

In ways that matter to lovers of this game, online bingo is just like regular bingo. Advanced graphics are used to render this game in visual quality most people could never imagine possible. Animations are also used to make the game more exciting for online players. All these features are absent in a physical bingo game.

As we speak, there are hundreds of bingo rooms all over the internet. That means there is something for everybody, regardless of which part of the world they are from. And for those who are worried that the online bingo playing experience is too watered down to match the quality a real-life game has to offer, the truth is actually quite different.

Because of the high quality graphics and great animations, online bingo is actually more visually rewarding than its real-life alternative. Besides, some salient bingo features such as social interaction are still supported using live bingo chat rooms.

And there’s more. Online bingo also offers jackpots, including the highly coveted progressive bingo jackpots whose rewards are more often than not life-changing for most winners. The best part is that with the most serious bingo rooms, a chance to win the jackpot is the rule rather than the exception.

This is not all you need to learn about when it comes to bingo. I have prepared other comprehensive guides on how this game is played and how to make the best of it as a win-oriented bingo player. Among other things, my guides will help you learn of different versions of this game, how to play them better, how to get the best bonuses, the legality of this game in an online gambling environment, and so forth and so on.