Bingo History

Bingo – we all know what it is, but where did it come from? The true origin of bingo dates back as far as the mid 16th century and is connected, strange as it may seem to the unification of Italy in 1530. The Italians introduced a National Lottery system known as Lo Giuoco del Lotto Italia which still exists today and contributes extensive funds to their budget every year.\r\n\r\nFrom the Italians lottery, the French adapted there own version of the game called Le Lotto which bears more resemblance to today’s game. The French had three horizontal and nine vertical rows forming the basis of the card and then players would cover their numbers as they were drawn until an entire horizontal row was filled.\r\n\r\nThe lotto format of bingo flourished in Europe but it was only in the 1920s that the game was discovered and would adopt a world renowned name. From the most bizarre circumstances the word bingo was born. A weary toy salesman by the name of Edwin S. Lowe was passing through Jacksonville, Georgia in the USA. He stopped off and participated in the local county carnival. During the entertainment he was drawn to a crowded carnival booth from where there were excited shouts. The excitement was generated from a game called Beano which was a variation on the European Lotto game. A horseshoe table was covered with numbered cards and beans. The pitchman would pull numbers from an old cigar box and the players used a bean to cover the corresponding number on their card. Like today there was a prize awarded, the person had to achieve a vertical, horizontal or diagonal line and then inform the pitchman by shouting BEANO! Lowe could clearly see the level of success the game had achieved at a local carnival and upon his return to New York he introduced his friends to the game. In fact, it was one of his friends who when so excited about her game jumped up with her winning number and hollered BINGO! Lowe used her malapropism when he introduced the game of bingo to the general public. Since then bingo has snowballed into the mass produced game that we know and love to play today.