The History of Bingo

July 28, 2010

Like many other popular games and pastimes, it’s not entirely clear what the origins of bingo actually are. Of course, we can trace the very popular current game of online bingo back to the start of the web, and then afterwards its increase in popularity since around 1995 onwards. 

The true beginnings of the game, though, are more difficult to discover, so here’s some information about what we know for certain regarding the history of bingo as we know it today. Starting in the 16th century in Italy, there was a game called Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia, which was a form of lottery. 

The game spread outside of Italy throughout more countries in Europe. In France, the game cards we’re used to seeing in today’s form of bingo were introduced. These cards were further modified in Germany, in order that they could be used as an educational tool to teach the public all about numbers. 

During the 1920s in America, a bingo game was popular in the travelling carnivals, which was known as “beano”. This derived its name from the fact the numbers were called through picking different numbers of beans. This game is thought to have become known as bingo after someone shouted “bingo!” instead of the more common “beano”, once they’d won. 

The Italian game from the 16th century also appears to have become popular in England around the same time. It is also known that lotteries of different types were played from then onwards, with particularly large public games being recorded as being enjoyed in the 1700s and 1800s, though games like this were illegal at the time. 

These large lottery games were illegal as a result of the government having developed its own similar game that it was using as a source for funds. Of course, we now have something similar in the UK again, with the National Lottery having been set up in 1994 under John Major’s Prime Ministership. 

At the beginning of the 1900s, the most obvious forerunner to the current game of bingo was popular in Britain – housey housey. Many people think of the 1960s as being the golden period for bingo in Britain, though, due to some changes in the law that enabled bingo halls to spring up in every city in the country. 

In the 21st century, of course, we have online bingo as being the most widespread version of the game. Whilst some are surprised at this, it’s obvious that the opportunity for anyone to win, and the potential large prizes on offer, are the main reason why so many people love playing bingo on the web.

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