The History of Bingo

The origins of many games of chance can often be traced back through the centuries. Blackjack for example is believed to have originated in 17th Century France. Yet many people may be surprised to learn that Bingo is also a game the history of which can be traced back through the years. In fact, as long ago as the 16th century the fore-runner of modern-day bingo was being played.

Within 1530s Italy a popular game was “Lo Giuoco Code Loto” which saw winners attempting to match a sequence of randomly selected numbers. The concept of the game then travelled across Europe and by the 1700s the French had developed the game further which now saw players using playing cards as part of the game. Numbered chips (from 1-90) were drawn from a bag and the first player to match the drawn numbers to those on their printed card won the game. The now-familiar calling of numbers had also become a cornerstone of the game.

Yet despite this long-standing history, it was only in 1920’s America that the game of bingo as we call it today came to be. It is told that Edwin Lowe visited a travelling fair in 1929 Atlanta and saw people obsessed with a game called ‘beano’ – the aim of the game being to match randomly drawn numbers to those on a pre-printed card. Edwin took this game to New York and whilst playing, one of Edwin’s friends was so excited by a win she yelled “Bingo!” and so the game that’s known across America and Europe was born.

Today players participate in both American-style 75-ball bingo as well as the 90-ball European game although both of these games follow the same format – players purchase cards and attempt to match the numbers on their card to those drawn and called out by the bingo caller. Of course, the ‘beans’ that were used in earlier versions of the game have been replaced with the now-familiar spherical balls and the game has gained some glitz and glamour along the way. But the game is fundamentally still the same as that being played in 1500s Italy and is loved as much today is it was 500 years ago. Especially by those playing it at one of the top bingo operators.