HISTORY OF BINGO
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THE HISTORY OF THE GAME BINGO
The history of bingo is both rich and diverse. Its roots can be traced back to Italy in the 1500s, and over the centuries, it spread to other European countries before arriving in the UK in the 1800s.
The game that we now know today has become particularly well-loved in the UK, where it began life in land-based clubs, and it can now be played via desktops and mobile devices too.
When bingo was legalised in the UK back in the 1960s, club memberships quickly escalated to 14m. Five decades later, it’s estimated that there are more than 100m bingo players worldwide.
Many players are attracted by the social side of bingo. Communities still come together down their local bingo club while their online counterparts can mingle in virtual chatrooms.
The Birth of Bingo
The history of bingo differs according to which part of the world you live in.
In Europe, the game can be traced back to Italy where a national lottery called Lo Guioco Lotto Italia was invented in 1530. Numbers were pulled out of a sack and players had to mark off the corresponding numbers on their cards in a similar, albeit cruder way to how we play it today.
The lottery game’s popularity had spread to France by the late 1770s where it was dubbed Le Lotto. Here, it took on a more complex appearance with the cards featuring 9 columns and 3 rows containing numbers ranging from 1 to 90.
By the 1800s, Lotto was introduced to German schools where it was used as a tombola-based learning method for pupils. Around the same time, Lotto games raised their head in the UK where over a century later, it transformed into the 90-ball bingo game that is still played both in bricks-and-mortar clubs and online today.
Bingo Around the World
While Le Lotto never found its way to America, the US still lays claim to the term “bingo”. It’s all thanks to a toy manufacturer from Long Island called Edwin Lowe who encountered it in 1929 during a visit to a carnival in Georgia. The winners were required to shout “Beano!”, and could often be found playing into the early hours.
Inspired by the excitement of this new-found carnival game, Lowe decided to mass-produce it on returning to New York where he first tested it out on his friends. Legend has it that one of Lowe’s friends became so exciting at winning a game that he shouted “Bingo!” by mistake.
Preferring the name “bingo” to “beano”, Lowe launched the game under the name “Bingo”, and his first products went on sale at a cost of $1 for 12 cards and $2 for 24 hours. Lowe later partnered with a maths professor at the University of Columbia called Carl Leffler so that the number of squares on the cards could be increased to better influence the outcomes of each game.
Biggest Bingo Jackpots in the World
Winners are created all the time at both land-based clubs and online bingo sites.
In 2010, a 24-year-old male claimed a world record when he called a full house after just 23 calls at a popular UK online bingo site. Setting the “fastest ever bingo win” record as well as beating odds of over 93 billion to 1, Darryl Howe took home an £18k jackpot just minutes after the game began.
Just two years later, an online bingo room proved particularly lucky for Gill from Nottingham. Gill was playing with a 25p ticket at one of her favourite sites when she netted over £510,000. She was swiftly added to the record books for achieving the world’s largest-ever online bingo win.
There have also been some particularly impressive wins at land-based clubs over the years, including a £1.17m payout that was awarded to 38-year-old Soraya Lowell in 2008 by Club3000 in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire. In the very same year, Christine Bradfield netted £1.1m at Castle Bingo in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales after playing an original bingo game called the National Bingo Game.
The Introduction of Online Bingo
1996 saw the introduction of the world’s first online bingo site. Bingo Zone was a US-based free-play site that paved the way for the online gambling operators that we’re familiar with today. By 2000, there were around 20 pay-to-play sites, and today, it’s estimated that there are in excess of 350.
Statistics indicated that the majority of players fall into the 18-45 age bracket, and that around 75% are female and 25% are male.
It’s estimated that there are at least 3m people who play online bingo in the UK, and this number is set to rise each year. Across the pond, many Americans and Canadians enjoy playing online too, although this varies state by state due to differing gaming laws, in states where Bingo is not allowed the game is often performed in church halls for fundraising purposes.
Online bingo has evolved considerably since the original bingo game was first introduced to land-based clubs in the 1960s. Unlike offline games, the online version allows players of differing ages to interact and enjoy playing for a wide variety of prizes around-the-clock. With an increasing number of operators vying for customers, it’s likely that we’ll continue to see advances in technology and gamification that will allow online bingo sites to take the playing experience to exciting new levels.
The Future of Online Bingo
One such innovation is brought to you by us! In January 2020 we rolled out the world’s first, Cash Out Bingo. Much like the sports betting feature, Cash Out Bingo gives the player the option to cash out before the conclusion of the game. The way that it works is simple, when the ‘Full House’ is about to be called, all the players with one ball to go are given the option to cash out or take a chance and go for the Full House.
Knowing when to cash out comes down to player’s nerve, do they hold out or take the money? The feature brings an exciting new dimension to bingo unlike any other, which is important to keep you guys having fun! With the increase in competition, online bingo sites will no doubt continue to look at innovative ways to bring bingo into the future.
The history of bingo shows how a simple Italian lottery game has evolved over several centuries to become one of the most popular internet-based games in the world. Players can choose from a diverse range of variants, including 90-ball, 80-ball, 75-ball, and 5-line while also enjoying side games and some friendly banter in the chat rooms.
The addition of unique bingo variants, loyalty programmes, and innovative features help make membership of bingo sites even more rewarding for the growing number of online bingo fans. Plus, the rising number of mobile bingo brands means that the game is more accessible than ever.
IN A NUTSHELL
Birth: Born in 1530.
Online Bingo: Appears in 1996.
Bingo Games: Many variants though most popular ones are 90-ball, 80-ball, 75-ball, and 5-line !
Biggest Jackpot: £1.3m after £5 bet!