Early Bingo History

Early bingo history can be traced all the way back to 1530 in Italy. Bingo originally developed from the Italian National Lottery called Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia. This Italian lottery is still being held every Saturday. By 1778, the game had been introduced to France and became Le Lotto, a game played by wealthy Frenchmen. This was the start of the lottery as we know it today.

In the 1800s, the game became more popular throughout Europe. The Germans even used it as an educational tool for school children, to help them learn maths and spelling.

Introduction into the US

Bingo reached North America in 1929. A carnival pitchman came across the lottery game after a tour of Germany and decided to take it back to America. He changed the name of the game to “beano” and had players mark their cards with beans.

Beano was played for the first time near Atlanta, Georgia. A travelling toy salesman by the name of Edwin S. Lowe came by a beano stall at a carnival. The stall was so crowded that he could not play the game himself. After watching the enthusiasm with which the game was played, Lowe decided to take the game back to New York. Beano became bingo when a friend of his accidentally shouted out “bingo” instead of “beano”.

From carnivals to bingo halls

In early bingo history, the game was played mostly at carnivals. The idea of the bingo hall came from a priest in Pennsylvania. One of his parishioners realised the potential of bingo to raise money for the church. The only problem was that there were only, at most, 24 cards in a set. The priest approached Lowe, who then approached a mathematics professor, Carl Leffler, at Columbia University. Carl Leffler went on to invent 6000 bingo cards, each with a unique combination. After his achievement, it is said that Leffler went insane!

After the introduction of bingo into church halls, the game became increasingly popular. By 1934, there were an estimated ten thousand bingo games being played per week in North America alone. So the move from church halls to dedicated bingo halls came about.

Bingo is now one of the most popular forms of gambling game in the world, both in bingo halls and through online bingo gambling.