History of Bingo

Early Beginnings

Bingo is a fun game enjoyed by millions worldwide. We find Bingo's early roots in the Italian lottery game of Lo Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia, the Italian state lottery which began way back in 1530. The next time we hear of bingo is France in 1778. Reports tell of widespread excitement around a new game enjoyed by the upper classes. This exclusive form of lotto used playing cards each divided into three horizontal and nine vertical rows. In this French bingo game each horizontal row contained five numbered and four blank squares arranged randomly, whilst the vertical rows contained numbers ranging from one to ten in the first row, 11 to 20 in the second row, repeated row by row up to ninety, with no two bingo cards being alike. This early European form of bingo included also a set of chips numbered from one to ninety. Play commenced by each player being dealt a single lotto card. Following this, the caller would draw a small wooden, numbered token from a cloth bag and read this random number aloud. The players would then cover the number if it appeared on their card. The first player to cover a horizontal row was the winner.

The Call is born

Bingo is of course known for the famous call of 'Bingo' when a card or line has been completed. It was not until the early twentieth century in New York that this famous addition was taken up. Legend has it that at a very high stakes game, one particular high society lady was very close to winning. She got more excited as each square was marked off on her card. Finally the last number was called and the woman jumped up excitedly but didn’t know what to say, so shouting out "B-B-B-BINGO!"

Bingo in the UK

Though hard to imagine, Bingo is a relative newcomer to the shores of the United Kingdom. Its popularity really took off in the 1960s. It was the 1968 Gaming Act which changed everything, allowing bingo games to be played on licensed premises. Bingo again gained a boost in 1986 with the launch of the National Bingo Game. This was passed by Parliamentary legislation and has helped make bingo feel as British as fish and chips or a rainy summer's day. Bingo has a warm place in the heart of British culture. Once thought to be just for senior citizens, playing for pennies, Bingo is now played by all and is recognized as a fun way to spend an afternoon with friends with the added excitement of winning cash prizes as well. Britain has also provided its own unique cultural additions to Bingo. Only in the UK are Bingo Calls associated with rhyming vocabulary. The idea being to help players hear the numbers more easily. It is much easier to hear a caller say, "Knock at the door, number four" than just "four". Other well known calls are "Dancing Queen, seventeen", "Legs Eleven", and "Two fat ladies, eighty eight".

Online Bingo Arrives

The internet has allowed Bingo to leave its high street and church hall image behind and head for glamour and bigger prizes. No more is Bingo just for elderly ladies in retirement homes. Bingo is now the fun pastime of city workers on a lunch break or professionals looking for a challenging way to relax. Bingo entered the internet gaming scene in 2005. Bingo online recently also received a boost by a new Gambling Act which counteracted the negative effects suffered following the National Smoking Ban in 2007. Suddenly hundreds of online bingo sites were launched. With just a few years the UK alone had millions players enjoying online bingo.


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