History of bingo

July 1, 2010 - by admin · Filed Under game Leave a Comment 

Posh Bingo

History of Bingo in the UK

Although online bingo has a very short history, the game of bingo itself dates back to the 16th century in Europe. Originating in Italy, bingo sprung from the Italian game Lo Giuocco del Lotto D’Italia which is a kind of lottery. This game later spread to France which was known at Le Lotto by that time, and further to Germany which was used as educational technique to teach children mathematics!

As the game evolved over the years after, bingo became a popular pastime in carnivals and fairs as a game called Beano which by the 1900s was being played in America as well. Beano was discovered and marketed by Edwin Rowe, a traveling toy salesman from New York. He discovered the game while passing through a fair in Georgia, USA and was fascinated about how addicting the simple game was. He created the first bingo set with 12 bingo cards, which he began to sell at one dollar per game. This later evolved into a bigger edition with 24 bingo cards which was sold for two dollars. While playing the game with friends in his New York home, a player excitedly called out Bingo instead of Beano, which changed the name of the game forever.

Bingo was later adapted as a game for fund-raising purposes by a Catholic priest, who also discovered that Lowe should come up with more number combinations on the bingo cards to prevent double winnings and prize-sharing. Lowe then approached a Columbia University mathematician who helped him come up with at least 6,000 bingo card combinations per game. As the bingo game gained popularity, especially at churches, across the country, an instructional manual was then published and a bingo newsletter called The Blotter was also developed.

Lowe never had any luck registering the trademark Bingo under his name since it was already under the public domain. During the 1930s, bingo was being played in America and in the UK at motion picture theaters before a movie was played. This became a great way to promote the theaters as bingo cards were distributed if you bought a movie ticket because it gave you a chance to win a prize during the bingo game before the show started.

In the mid-1900’s, bingo had gained worldwide popularity, and by 1968 the UK Gaming Act officially made it a formal game form in the United Kingdom. As more people played it in churches and fairs, more and more people were exposed to the simple yet addicting game that was taking the world by storm. By 1986, the National Bingo Game in the UK was legalized. This allowed for even more bingo game playing in public places and as a means to raise money for charities and other organizations. In 2003, the first UK online bingo game was launched, where today, more than 3 million people play the game of bingo online regularly. Online bingo gaming has become so popular, not only in the UK but around the world, and has drawn in millions of players worldwide to participate in virtual bingo games to win cash prizes on the internet.

History of Bingo in the USA

With this existing bingo craze, especially now that it has made it online, it is surprising to find out that bingo only started in 1929 in Jacksonville, Georgia in the USA. Originally the game was called Beano simply because participating players in the game would mark their cards with beans, but as time passed, Bingo became the name of the game.

One could say the founder of the bingo game was Edwin Lowe who discovered the game while he was a poor traveling toy salesman from New York. During one of his business calls, he happened to pass through a Beano tent in a county fair where a group of people were playing what we now know as bingo. The concept was the simple, people had cards which they marked with beans whenever the caller called out a number, and if a player completed a diagonal, horizontal or vertical line of beans he would call out ‘Beano!’ After verification of his number and he was declared a winner, the prize would be a kewpie doll from the caller.

Edwin Lowe noticed that this game went on for hours, even after the caller would warn them that it was the last game. Apparently it was addicting and Lowe saw the potential in such a low-budget activity in times of recession and depression. So, he began his own beano sessions in his New Your apartment where he initially invited friends to come and play. It was one evening that a player mistakenly shouted ‘Bingo’ instead of ‘Beano’ which forever changed the name of the game.

As time passed, Edwin Lowe began to market the game of bingo in the US and the first bingo game was sold with only 12 cards in it at a total cost of one dollar. As time passed the edition of the game started including 24 cards at a higher price of two dollars. Since the name bingo was already part of the public domain, Lowe could not register it as his trademark.

By this time, the game had made its debut nationwide and was given special notice by a Wilkes-Barre Catholic priest in Pennsylvania. He saw this as an opportunity for the church to fundraise since his church was not thriving in the poor economy. All it took was purchasing several versions of the game and start playing it with the members of his congregation on weekends and evenings. However, finding that there were shared winnings amongst player due to duplicated cards, he saw this as an opportunity to change the game.

The priest went to Edwin Lowe with the problem along with a solution that he should make more bingo card combinations to make the game more interesting. With this idea, Lowe approached Columbia University mathematician, Carl Leffler, to help him come up with more number combinations for his game. They came up with 6000 combinations by 1930 which made the game far more interesting than when it first started.

Soon bingo games were a regular activity across different churches across the USA and by 1934 Edwin Lowe had established his bingo manufacturing company with over 1000 employees. His discovery of the game paved the way for bingo in the years after.

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