A Global History of Bingo: One of the World’s Oldest Gambling Games

Whenever you think of classic gambling games and past-times, your mind is invariably drawn to examples such as roulette and blackjack. After all, these iconic games have been glamourized through the ages, while they also have a fascinating history that traverses multiple cultures and dates back to the eighteenth century.

While the merits of these games cannot be ignored, however, bingo also has a deceptively rich history that deserves recognition. Originating from an Italian Lottery known as the Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia that was first played back in 1530 and remains popular to this day, it quickly evolved and reached the borders of France during the late 1770’s. From here it became popular in central European nations such as Germany, while it was primarily played by wealthy citizens with a fixed amount of disposable income.

The Diversity of Bingo and its Breakthrough in the US

Eventually, bingo followed games such as poker and blackjack to the shores of North America in 1929. It was initially known as ‘Beano’, and thrived as a country fair game where a designated dealer would select numbered discs from a cigar box while players marked their cards with beans. They would then shout ‘Beano’ when they achieved a full house, and it was only renamed as bingo in the 1930’s when a New York toy salesman overhead a player mistakenly use this word when calling house during a game.

history of bingo

The salesman, Edwin S. Lowe, then hired a Columbia University mathematics processor called Carl Leffler to create a higher volume of number sequences and combinations on bingo cards. By 1930, there were an estimated 6,000 different bingo cards, and over the course of the next few years the game became integrated across multiple facets of society. These included various gambling establishments throughout the U.S., while bingo was also played in churches as a way of raising funds for charitable causes. By 1934, there were a total of 10,000 bingo games being played on a weekly basis.

history of bingo call

The Last Word

In the present day, bingo is renowned as one of the most lucrative pastimes across the whole of the gambling market. It is also a huge driver of the global, remote gaming sector, which is worth billions of dollars and continues to grow exponentially year-on-year. Bingo is also achieving its full potential as a game, to its rich heritage and history.

Last updated: Feb 9, 2023

Lillian Grey

183 Articles

Lillian Grey is a long time online bingo and slots player who started putting her thoughts down on digitial paper around 2008. Having been covering the industry for quite some time, she is able to spot the good from the bad when it comes to online bingo. An ever present at indsutry conferences and events, Lillian likes to meet fellow bingo enthusiasts to share stories and ideas, with maybe a glass of wine (or two) involved! When not covering the ever changing world of online bingo, she likes to read a good book and go for family walks in the forest.

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