While bingo is often associated as being a British-based game, it is in fact a global entity that remains influential all over the world. Its heritage is fascinating, while it also inspires a wide range of alternative laws and customs depending on where it is played in the world. It is also interesting to note that the game did not even originate in the UK, as the journey from quaint village pastime to a globally popular activity enjoyed by millions actually began in Italy back in 1530!
Bingo Culture from around the world: A Lesson in History
In terms of culture, it is interesting to explore how the game originated in certain countries and its meaning to players. Let’s start with Italy, as this is where the game originated during the 16th century. Known back then as ‘Lo Giucco del Lotto D’Italia’, it was a hugely popular village game that bears a strong resemblance to the National Lottery in the UK (featuring five numbered balls being drawn from a purpose-built wheel). A total of 90 balls were used in all, and the game was known to draw people together within local communities.
While bingo is renowned in Italy, the UK and the U.S. as a gambling pastime, it has far deeper meaning in other cultures. In Germany, for example, the game is played primarily to teach children and students the fundamental principles of mathematics, and has served this unique educational purpose almost since its introduction to the country back in 1880. Older players still refer to the game by its traditional German name of ‘Lottospiel’, while they also call the long-standing winning word ‘volltreffer’ when the game is won! The German population have actively helped to popularise bingo as a teaching method in the Western World, with a number of developed economies now using it to educate children.
Bingo in Japan: Embracing a New Market
Japanese culture is not renowned for its restraint, as is showcased by its zany game shows and unique sense of humour. The subjects of the nation also actively embrace any new concepts with tremendous enthusiasm, as they did with bingo when it emerged as a popular game towards the end of the last century. In fact, Japan now has the second largest volume of bingo players in the world, fewer than the population of the U.S. but more than residents in the UK.