Bingo, as we know it today, developed in the 1920s in the United States, but dates back as early as the 1500s when it was a form of lottery game in Italy. It became known as Lotto in Europe (also Loto) and was popular as a boxed game available for individual purchase in the 1880s and ‘90s.
More than just numbers, the themed Bingo cards of Europe often had beautiful illustrations. In the 1920s, a game called Beano was becoming popular, especially on carnival circuits; the game was Bingo, using beans as the markers to cover the numbered spaces, hence the name.
Reports show it as turning up in Georgia and Pennsylvania, where a Hugh J. Ward is credited with running Bingo games in Pittsburg in the early 1920s, before “taking it nationwide in 1924”; he is said to have secured a copyright on the game and wrote a book of rules in 1933 (Source: www.pittsburgh.about.com).
Beano evolved into Bingo when E.S. Lowe began producing the game in the 1930s (or very late 1920s). Other sources say that Lowe got the name from a Beano player excitedly shouting out “Bingo” when she won.
My research showed that “E.S.” was Edmund Lowe,
though all other sources refer to “Edwin.” What’s interesting is that in 1942, a design patent (D132993) for a “Bingo Sheet or Similar Article” was awarded to an Erwin S. Lowe of Brooklyn New York. E.S. Lowe Company, located at 27 W. 20th Street, New York 11, NY, produced many games after Bingo, the most notable being Yahtzee, in 1956.
In the 1940s, patents were being awarded for various Bingo designs for attached window coverings, eliminating the need for loose beans or, by that time, markers to cover the numbers called. Early markers were usually wood, but also glass and, in cheaper versions, cardboard.
Bingo is principally a gambling game, and millions of dollars (and other currencies) change hands every year where it is played. At casinos, the game is also called Keno. (At one time, one could purchase a boxed Keno game.) Lucky is another, lesser-used name. The game is popular through churches, where it is a major fundraiser, on Indian reservations, since they are not burdened by U.S. tax laws, and at casinos. Foxwoods casino, one of the largest in the Northeast, offers “the only place in New England where you can play high stakes bingo in the comfort of a beautiful 3600 person capacity bingo hall — one of the largest in the world.” Can you image a full house – playing with over 3000 people, most of whom play with up to ten cards at the same time?
The Bingo Bugle Cruise (The Bingo Bugle is an online newsletter) advertises that it has paid out $2,000,000 in prizes since 1989; their 2011 23rd Annual World Championship Bingo Tournament & Gaming (8-day) Cruise has rates that begin at $1570 per person. “Over $100,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded — $80,000 guaranteed for The World Championship Bingo Tournament alone!”
According to games researcher Ben Brazil, “The game went from a 1930s craze to a major source of Protestant/Catholic tension [in the U.S.] in the 1940s to the 1960s. Catholics played bingo to raise badly needed money. Protestants decried ‘gambling.’ Later on, the game became a staple of American culture. But the mob got involved, usually running games in the names of churches and charities. There have been scandals almost since the beginning, with juicy stories of corruption, etc.
“Keno in the 19th century was bingo (without the free space and numbers up to). It was not the pick-6 (or pick-10, or whatever) type game we think of today. In the 19th century, Keno was very widespread and was considered gambling every bit as much as poker and faro, the leading gambling game of the day. It appears to have been forced into fairs and carnivals by the anti-gambling crackdown of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It re-emerged in multiple ways in multiple places – as a sort of ball-toss game in California, for example (you could call your number by tossing the ball in the right hole). Quickly, however, the parlor game variety promoted by Edwin Lowe and others became dominant. On a side note, I really question the attribution of bingo’s popularity to Lowe. So many others came out with similar games so quickly, and there is no record at any NYC university of the famous insane math professor, Carl Leffler, who was supposedly at Columbia.”
Bingo has also been used as a premium, that is to say, a game you could get free when buying certain product; for example, a Coca-Cola Bingo set.
Because of the money involved, you may need a license to run Bingo events. In the U.K., you do not need an operating license if you run Bingo: at home (as long as more than half the people playing live there, and there is no charge for participating); for fundraising (as long as you tell the players the cause you are raising money for, give away all the money raised minus the cost of prizes and reasonable costs for organizing the event); and at pubs and clubs and alcohol license premises (provided the games are for adults only and not linked with games played on other premises, and provided they do not exceed the maximum of £2,000 per week in stakes/prizes). According to bingoonmobile.co.uk, “Today’s Bingo lovers don’t need to work hard to play Bingo; there are a variety of mobile bingo apps so now you can play anywhere, anytime. Click on mobile bingo app.”
Groups can make $50,000 a year through Bingo, though it’s not easy. One interviewee said, “Players want lots of opportunities to win money, a clean hall with designated smoking areas and good food.”
Bingo in Yesteryear
–Submitted by Jackpot Jane
The consensus is that bingo started as a form of lottery in Italy around 1530. Played mostly on Sundays, the game had spread to other countries a couple of centuries later. It reached full maturity in France where playing cards, tokens and the calling of numbers are added into the mix. In Germany, it was used to teach spelling, animal names and multiplication tables for children. The modern bingo came out of the U.S. in the 1920s and a rule book was written soon thereafter. Commercial bingos were then played in bingo halls with progressive jackpots but there has been a marked decline in attendance, partly with the advent of online bingo.
In the early days of bingo, bingo cards are hand printed or rubber stamped on cardboards. The cards are reusable and players used marks or tokens for the numbers called. The cards were hand crafted so only a few unique boards were developed. When the printing machines were invented, bingo cards were printed on card stocks, and this type is still in use today. Later, cheap thin papers or flimsies were used to save on costs. Bingo cards are in two types – the 5×5 grid for 75-ball Bingo used in the U.S. and the 9×3 grid used for the U.K. and Australian style 90-ball Bingo.
Times have changed and today you can play online bingo, but once they were playing bingo on the real cards. And when people started to play bingo online, the game underwent some changes. Instead of bingo boards, players use virtual cards that appear in pop-up windows. The bingo cards are selected at random, and players usually get 3 or 4 cards, and sometimes more. As the numbers are called, the player will daub or blot his card using the mouse. In some games, the numbers are marked automatically on your cards and the game patterns are likewise put on display. However, as a consequence of the proliferation of bingo sites, less people are playing in bingo halls and special bingo boards are becoming harder to find.
–submitted by Casinotop10
Bingo in the last three decades has evolved dramatically from the customary bingo hall and American Legion establishments that many are familiar with.
For example, many casinos will offer bingo along with the regular spread of casino games in order to draw in guests. While bingo players may not run up the same tabs as other types of gamblers, they do tend to be a consistent form of steady income, income which can make the difference in how much a smaller casino profits from operations.
Beginning in the late 90′s, bingo underwent another dramatic change that has steadily evolved into the new century, and that is online gaming. As online casinos and online poker began to take hold, online bingo sites began to crop up offering a variety of games. Even now you can find a solid mix of bingo games ranging from free games to real money games.
Most free bingo games that you will find online will award some type of prize or points that you can accumulate towards a prize. These games are by and large considered more social in nature. Others are more along the lines of a standard bingo game with cash buy-ins and cash prizes awarded each game. The big difference is that online there is literally a much larger selection in both the number of sites and the types of games one can play. Online bingo is the next step in the evolution of bingo and one that can literally reach anyone in the world with an Internet connection.
Boxed Bingo Games
Bingo-theme dexterity puzzles
Bingo became so popular that by 1932, even a bagatelle game (games that were the forerunners of pinball) was given the name “Bingo.”
If you re searching for Beano, don’t get confused…