Bingo History – How it came to be so popular

Bingo HistoryBingo History – The Early Origins

There are many reports that the game of Bingo can be traced back to an Italian Lottery called Lo Giuoco which originated in 1530. It is true that Bingo history does find some similarity with lottery games which require random number selection.

There is the suggestion that playing Bingo evolved from the British Armed forces at the end of the 1800’s. The British Army played a game called Housey-Housey which involved marking randomly drawn numbers on a card. The winner covered all the numbers on the card. The Navy had a similar game called Tombola which today we might call a raffle. There was a large naval Garrison in Malta from 1814 and some say that the game was derived there.

Basic random number selection can be achieved simply by putting written numbers into a bag and selecting them one at a time. However this method is open to criticism because the top number will be selected first. More about that later.

Edwin Lowe

An American man named Edwin Lowe is credited with the invention in Bingo history but from most accounts, he copied it from another game he discovered when stopping at a Country fair in Atlanta, Georgia back in 1929.

Edwin Lowe was a travelling salesman from New York. He became enthralled with a game then called “Beano” which he witnessed at the Country Fair. Random numbers were drawn from a cigar box which players could match on their card with numbers on it. The players then covered that number with a bean and played until their card was full. At that point the player had to shout out “Beano” to claim the prize.

Bingo history shows us he became obsessed with the game and tried it out on a group of friends. It is said that one of his female friends jumped up and shouted “Bingo” by mistake. Lowe then called the game Bingo. Bingo history was born out of a stutter, it seems.

Edwin Lowe promoted the game at events across the US and its popularity grew enormously and very quickly. People became fanatical about it.

Edwin Lowe employed a University Professor to develop Bingo cards with random numbers and apparently he developed 6000 of them. Lowe needed to ensure fair play as far as possible. He introduced cards with 25 numbers printed on them. He introduced a system where there were up to 90 numbers being called. Of course the game was won before that was the case.

The point here was that the number being called had to be totally random. It was not until the late 1930’s that Bingo callers had the benefit of random number generators. The early ones blew numbered ping-pong balls around in a glass box until one of them landed in a scoop. That number was then called. The older readers amongst you might remember this piece of Bingo history.

Bingo BallsThe Growth of Bingo

Bingo became popular all over the US. The games were developed so it was easy to win a small amount or a large amount. People loved it. Bingo is a big part of the history of gambling.

One of the reasons why Bingo became popular because it was a chance to go out and meet people. It is a very sociable and enjoyable pastime and oh yes, you can win money.

It is possible that Bingo spread to the UK or that the English games of Housey-Housey and Tombola became developed in the American way.

Modern Bingo history shows it was first played extensively in the UK at amusement arcades and holiday parks. However,  during the 1960’s the number of Bingo halls grew rapidly until there were 800. Now there are only 400 as the game decreased in popularity. Bingo history has recorded a massive decline over the past decade.

Now, Bingo players are able to play online. Many Bingo businesses have been going online since the mid 90’s. The first online players used gambling software on their home PC’s but now there are downloadable apps for Tablets and Mobile phones.

Read more about Bingo.

Read more about interesting gambling history.

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