From its humble beginnings as a charity game played in church halls, the game of bingo has certainly made enormous strides. In the past decade, bingo has transformed into a game that has literally taken the world by storm, and is now played religiously at bingo halls around the globe, as well as on countless online bingo sites over the internet through an industry worth billions of dollars.
So where did the game of bingo actually begin?
We know for certain that in the middle of the 1500’s, a game that borrowed its rules from a lotto type framework was found in Italy. The game was made official in the form of the Italian National Lottery (aka Lo Giouco del Lotto d’Italia) in 1530, and became one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the country. To this day, Italians are fixated with their lottery which brings in billions to government coffers.
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The Spread of Bingo Across Europe
A game that proved to be so much fun could obviously not be contained within the borders of Italy and it wasn’t long before the popularity of lottery spread across Europe, becoming an established game in France in the late 18th Century. The Germans also adopted a version of the lottery and used it to further the education of local students.
It is believed that immigrants from Europe brought the game across the oceans to the United States, where it was offered as a popular game at travelling fairs and carnivals. In 1929, a traveling salesman, Edwin Lowe attended a carnival near Atlanta and discovered the game, which was known locally as Beano. Beano essentially incorporated a similar structure to the game of bingo as we know it today – players held a card with a list of numbers, and the caller would remove numbered disks from a box and have players check if they had the number on their cards. The numbers were covered with beans (hence the name) and the first person to cover his or her card with the beans yelled “Beano” and won the prize.
Ever the entrepreneur, Lowe decided to adapt the game into a home-version and invited a group of friends to try it out when he felt satisfied with the result. Legend has it that an attending guest was so excited when she completed the card that she yelled BINGO, instead of BEANO. Lowe’s name for his newly adapted game was thus born.
Lowe marketed the game across the United States on a smaller scale, but went into mass production after he was approached by a priest who felt that the game would be the perfect way to raise funds for his church. Lowe created a game that combined 6,000 different cards for greater variety and by 1934 he was producing a staggering 10,000 games of bingo a week!
Bingo Takes off Commercially in the US
There was no doubt that bingo was set to become one of the greatest forms of entertainment in the United States, and the game soon took off in its new form around the globe. While the game was played mostly in churches and charity organizations, it soon took on a commercial spin and was offered in Nevada casinos and Native American bingo halls. Networking bingo rooms telephonically soon followed, linking halls together and offering more players a chance to hit the jackpot.
Bingo is a hugely popular form of entertainment in the United Kingdom, with most towns offering at least one bingo room that provides a social destination for players.
When the internet first hit the scene in the mid 1990’s, the first online bingo games were offered to fans of the game. Nobody was to know just how huge the online bingo industry would become 15 years down the line, creating an industry that generates billions of dollars each and every year. Competition between online bingo rooms is fierce, with sites vying for players to open accounts and play their games. Software groups spend millions each year in money and manpower to create games that are more appealing, more realistic and more rewarding.
Online bingo, offered through over 2000 sites on the internet, has contributed in a major way to ensure that the game remains as popular as ever, with no signs of letting up as far as the eye can see... and beyond.
Posted by Denise Marie