The Origins of Bingo

July 26, 2010

Like many other popular games and pastimes, it’s not exactly certain what the foundations of bingo actually are. Of course, we can trace the very popular current game of online bingo back to the birth of the web, and then afterwards its rise in popularity since around the mid 1990s onwards. 

The true origins 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 became popular outside of Italy throughout more countries in Europe. In France, the gamecards we’re used to seeing in today’s type of bingo were introduced. These cards were further modified in Germany, in order that they could be used as an educational tool to teach people all about numbers. 

During the 1920s in America, a bingo game was popular in the travelling fairs, which was known as “beano”. This took 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 usual “beano”, once they’d won. 

The Italian game from the 1500s also appears to have become popular in England at the same time. It is also known that lotteries of various types were played from then onwards, with particularly large public games being recorded as being played in the 1700s and 1800s, though these were illegal at the time. 

The 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 revenue. 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 government. 

At the beginning of the 20th century, the most obvious forerunner to the modern game of bingo was popular in Britain – housey housey. Many people think of the 1960s as being the golden age for bingo in Britain, though, due to some changes in the law that allowed bingo halls to spring up in every town in the country. 

In the 21st century, of course, we have internet bingo as being the most popular 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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