The History of Bingo

The history of bingo can be traced back hundreds of years. The game of luck has similar characteristics of lottery games and different variations have been offered over the years to keep play challenging and exciting. The object of bingo is to create a certain pattern on a callboard before all other players by using the random numbers called by the bingo official. Beginners and advanced players will likely enjoy the game of luck and prizes can be offered through organizers of fundraising events, casinos and online bingo game providers.

Bingo in the 16th Century

The first appearance of a bingo game took place in Italy during the 1530s. During that time, a game called Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia which is translated as the Clearance of the Lot of Italy, was played in the country as a community event every Saturday and used to raise money for the government. During the game, five numbers from out of 90 were drawn. Each participant could choose up to 10 numbers on any of the 10 “wheels” with the winners chosen based on whether they guessed the numbers correctly. Each wheel in the game was named for a famed city in Italy and the order in which you guessed the numbers to come out affected your winnings. The Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia is still played in Italy to this day.

Le Lotto in France

Two centuries after the introduction of the Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia in Italy, a variation of the game began gaining popularity in France. For the 18th century version of Le Lotto, playing cards were separated into horizontal and vertical lines. Each card had a total of three horizontal rows and nine vertical rows. The squares on each row were assigned with random numbers. The squares in the first vertical row were assigned numbers 1 to 10, the second vertical row were given numbers 11 to 20, the third row had numbers 21 to 30, and so on until up to the number 90. Each player was given a card with a different combination of numbers. Chips were imprinted with each number and drawn from a cloth bag by a selected chairperson. The first player to cover an entire row would be deemed the winner. Although initially a popular game with wealthy Frenchman, the game would soon spread to include all classes.

Beano in North America

Before modern bingo would be introduced the world, a version called beano grew in popularity in the United States. Beano involved the use of dried beans to cover a row of numbers on a callboard shouted out during game play. The first person to cover the numbers on the entire board would shout out “beano” to signify their win. Hugh Ward would be one of the first to coin the term “bingo” in the early 1920s after introducing versions of the game at carnivals around the Western Pennsylvania area in the United States. He authored a rule book on the game of bingo which was published in 1933. Toy merchandiser Edwin Lowe is credited with introducing modern bingo to the world after witnessing a version of Ward’s game at an Atlanta, Georgia carnival. When too many winners were named during bingo games, Lowe decided more combinations of numbers would be needed to keep the game competitive. Lowe worked closely with a Columbia University math professor by the name of Carl Leffler. Leffler is responsible for creating 6,000 different variations on bingo cards. Leffler was paid per bingo card to make the combinations and it became increasingly difficult as more combinations were required. It is rumored that the work on the bingo combinations would be the cause of the aging Leffler losing his sanity. Lowe would create the first commercial set of bingo cards with the help of these combinations and retail them for one dollar for each 12 card set and two dollars for the 24 card set.

Church Fundraising

When people began to witness the popularity of bingo, there became a rise to monetize the game. Months after the commercialization of Lowe’s version of the game, a priest from the Wilkes-Barre area of Pennsylvania approached Lowe about using bingo to raise funds for his church. The idea was to hold bingo games in church halls on a weekly basis and for patrons to purchase bingo cards at set prices in order to be eligible for prizes. The funds not used towards prizes went to the church. If players were looking to increase their chances of winning, they could invest in playing off of more than one card for each game held during the event. By 1934, approximately 10,000 bingo games were held weekly to raise money for churches. The success of bingo continues today and weekly games are still held nationwide by charity and religious organizations looking to raise money for their causes.

Online Bingo

Today, bingo is not only available in brick and mortar casinos and church halls. Interested parties can take part in online community games of bingo. Bingo numbers are called through the online server and the first player to match the numbers in the selected patterns-wins the prize. Gaming websites offer free play rooms that use tokens instead of real money for people who wish to only play for the fun of it. Others can deposit cash into a casino account and play online bingo games to win real cash jackpots. Registration typically only takes a couple of minutes and your information is protected when using online casinos with security measures in place. Deposits and withdrawals are done via debit cards, credit cards, online money transfers and check payments. Chat options through online bingo rooms keep up with the community aspect of the game.

Bingo is a fast-paced game that can be learned at a young age. Even math teachers use the concepts found in bingo to teach mathematics to their students. Bingo is legal in most areas and games can range from the small to thousands of players.

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