Bingo is a game that gets enjoyed by literally millions of people worldwide, and 3.8 million Britons regularly enjoy playing bingo both in bingo halls but, more increasingly, online.
Although the exact origins of bingo in the UK are shrouded in mystery, Bingo (or ‘Housey Housey’ & Housie as it is sometimes known) is a game that has been played in some form for generations. It has always been a favourite for those wishing to get out of the house and socialise, without having to spend a fortune.
Rumour has it, though, that Bingo is of Italian origin, its grandfather possibly being the Italian Lottery, ‘Lo Gioco del Lotto D’Italia’. The game was adapted and altered as it travelled from country to country.
In France, it was known as ‘Le Lotto’ and was a French aristocracy’s favourite. We probably wouldn’t recognise these games of bingo. Still, the closest forms of the game we played in 19th century Germany got used as an educational tool to make learning fun – teaching children to spell, numbers, multiplication tables and even history!
In the US, bingo got played in carnivals, with players in the early games shouting “Beano!” instead of the “Bingo!” we expect today.
In 1929, Edwin Lowe visited a carnival in Atlanta and saw a game getting played, mesmerised by the game’s draw and the level of involvement and engagement that players had – many of whom would not stop playing until being told to leave; at 3 am when the carnival closed!
Lowe then took the game to New York, where he refined Bingo to use beans, playing boards and numbering stamps. The name of Beano was promptly discarded as soon as one of Lowes excited friends accidental called out ‘Bingo!’ instead of Beano when he won a game – which remains with us today.
Lowe travelled around America to spread the game further. By the 1940s, all of the USA seemed to be enjoying the game. Bingo was easy-going and fun and became a popular small stakes gambling game mostly used for fun at home, at charity auctions and other similar events.
The bingo we know in the UK gets played with a slightly different structure. The UK version was growing alongside its American counterpart to help it become a more world-wide phenomenon.
As technology has advanced, so has bingo, with more and more sophisticated draw machines making way for computerised random number generators – which has helped keep the game fair. Online bingo uses random number generators, also, with no human influence in strictly regulated games.
Bingo has grown and grown to become one of the most popular games worldwide. It’s simple and easy to pick up nature has meant it is well-loved by people of all ages.
It is widely played for fun among children and adults alike, but the betting aspect is also prevalent, and jackpots and prizes often reach hundreds, if not thousands of pounds both online and in bingo halls.
The game’s format lends itself easily to the Internet, which has been a significant factor in its huge success even in today’s digital age. Online Bingo is here to stay. You could say it is not part of the fabric of the History of Bingo.