History of Bingo

Not many of the people (who pump in 90 million $ a week) playing bingo know, that by doing so they are becoming a part of a 500 year old history!!

Bingo as a game originated somewhere around the year 1500, along with the unification of Italy. Italy is also called as the birth place of this game, where it evolved from the game of Lo Giuoco del Lotto Italia. However, bingo didn't come into its present form till 1778.

In the classic version of the game, the playing cards were divided into three horizontal and nine vertical rows. Each horizontal row had five numbered and four blank squares in a random arrangement. The vertical rows contained numbers from 1 to 10 in the first row, 11 to 20 in the second row, et cetera, up to 90. No two cards were alike.

Chips numbered from 1 to 90 completed the playing equipment. Later numbers were called out and the same, if on anyone's card was crossed. The first one to cover a fixed set pattern (vertical, diagonal, horizontal etc) was anointed the winner.

However another game which claims to be a more direct precedent of Bingo, is Beano. The journey of beano to bingo is rather an interesting tale, dating back to 1929.

Story is about a New York business man Edwin S Lowe, who while driving to Jacksonville, Georgia came across bright lights of a country carnival. Parking his car he headed straight for the gathering where standing over his toes, he realized that the action revolved around a man sitting behind a horseshoe shaped table covered with numbered cards and beans.

Soon he figured out the game, played with numbered games and wooden discs from which one read the numbers aloud and others marked there cards with beans. This sequence continued till someone filled a line of numbers on the card and shouted "beano".

However what caught Lowe's attention most was the fact that all the players were addicted to this gameof Bingo and were reluctant to go even after 3 am. After locking up, the main pitchman told Lowe that he had picked up the game of Bingo while in Germany, and it was referred to as Lotto there.

Returning back home, Lowe bought all the game accessories he could find and called over some friends to his apartment and introduced them to Bingo. During a session, one of the lady players called out "Bingo" instead of the regular "beano"...

And that's the story of the birth of Bingo. According to Lowe, who was also owner of a toy business, "the girls cry brought to me a strange sense of elation" and he decided to produce the game.

In the present version of the game, players buy cards with numbers on them in a 5 X 5 grid. Numbers are then drawn at random out of a possible 75, until finally one player completes a Bingo line with five numbers in a vertical or horizontal row.