History of Bingo

Bingo Dabbers

If you want to know more about something looking back into the past is often a great way of doing it, and there are many interesting elements in the history of bingo which you can discover if you look back at where it came from and how it has developed over the ages, from a simple game played with physical cards to the masses of internet bingo versions that you can find today and even download onto your smart phone or tablet if you want to. This has been a real process, and it started around five hundred years ago.

We can trace the history of bingo back to around the year 1530, when a lottery game was played in Italy, known as Il Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia. From the lottery tickets that were used in that game it steadily developed over time, and in the eighteenth century in France it was first found that using playing cards, tokens, and having someone read out the numbers had been added into the mix. It developed yet further in Germany, where it was used as a tool to teach children spelling, the names of animals, and even multiplication tables – and where mathematics in particular is concerned this technique is still used around the world today. In 1778, Le Lotto arrived in France and this was a unique variation that had a layout of three rows and nine columns, totalling twenty seven numbered squares overall, with the numbers ranging between one and ninety. However, only five of the squares within each row actually had numbers in them, giving fifteen numbers overall and leading to the gradual development of bingo as we know it today.

It was in the early 1920s that Hugh J Ward started to take the game around to carnivals in the Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania area, giving it a standardised form, copyrighting it, and writing the rule book on it by 1933. Toy merchandiser Edwin Lowe had caught wind of the game when he attended a travelling carnival near Atlanta in December 1929, and he took the game to New York where he introduced it to his friends and conducted a version called Beano, using dried beans, cardboard sheets, and a rubber stamp. Lowe’s bingo game was the popular one overall, with a twelve card set on sale for $1 and a twenty four card set available for $2.

This was the important point in which the history of bingo launched it as a game that could be enjoyed across the world, as it became a wild success under Lowe’s careful hands and by the time 1940 arrived the games were all over the country, and spreading internationally too. Lowe charged his competitors just $1 per year to conduct their own versions of the game and use the name Bingo, following the Ward rules! The steady development from then to now has introduced different forms and layouts to the game, following popular opinion on how it worked best.


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