The History and Origins of Bingo

Bingo is a hugely popular game the world over, and has an illustrious history in both casinos and bingo halls. It’s probably one of the few casino games that is most well known for having entire facilities dedicated to just the one game. Although in movies, Bingo has a reputation for being an old ladies game, the reality is quite different, especially with the game moving into online casinos. Bingo is now a lot more accessible these days, and as a result has grown massively in popularity.

The current version of the game of Bingo played in both the US and the UK is relatively recent. In the USA, Hugh J Ward first standardized the game in the 1920’s, as Beano. Ward copyrighted the game and wrote a rulebook for it, and it became a popular form of entertainment at county fairs in the Pennsylvania area. Originally Beano was played with dried beans and a card. Players would mark the numbers that had been called by placing a bean on the card.

The spread and popularity of the game is said to be in part, due to Edwin Lowe. While travelling in Pittsburgh he noticed some kids playing Beano at a country fair. It looked like fun, and after a few rounds he decided he needed to teach his friends. When he returned to New York, he taught his guests how to play, and it was an instant hit. It has been suggested that the name Bingo came about when a guest at the dinner party excitedly called out ‘Bingo!’ instead of Beano when she won, and the rather catchy name stuck.

The game of Bingo does date back further than the 1920’s, however. The first recorded version of the game is in Italy in 1530. The game at the time was called Il Giuco del Lotto d’Italia, and had similar rules to a lottery, though on a much shorter timeline. The game evolved to include cards and the calling of numbers to keep the excitement high. It is next recorded in France as Le Lotto as early as 1778. As with many games (among other things) when settlers moved to the USA, the game travelled with them and made its way Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where Hugh J Ward literally wrote the book. Bingo has evolved again in the move to the online arena and only time will tell where the evolution of the game will take us next.