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- Bingo History - where it all started and more! -
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- Bingo history 101 -

It all started in Italy

The origins of Bingo in all countries where bingo is enjoyed today can be traced to a game called Lotto first played by Italians in the 1530's. This game is still played every Saturday in Italy and is called Lo Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia. Modern bingo is a descendant of Lo Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia.

Bingo in the United States

When the game finally reached the new world in 1929 during the Great Depression, The game was first played at a carnival in Atlanta, Georgia and it was called Beano. Why Beano?... Because dried pinto or lima beans were used to mark the numbers on the card. The name was corrupted into Bean-go and finally its present form Bingo. The man credited with popularizing the game in the United States was Edwin S. Lowe. While Mr. Lowe talked with a carnival pitchman running the game near Jacksonville Georgia, the pitchman told Lowe that he found the game the previous year in Germany. He said that he made some changes in the rules and changed the name to Beano. The game was such a crowd pleaser that he returned to the United States and continued to run the game on the carnival circuit.

Lowe was so impressed that he decided to promote and market the game. So that the game could be played with a large number of people, he hired Carl Leffler, a Columbia University math professor, to increased the combinations in the bingo cards from 24 to 6,000. This was done to make it more difficult for anyone but a single player to win. With great sacrifice, Leffler finished the job but it is rumored that he went insane.

A Catholic priest from Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania was quick to see the potential of using bingo to raise funds for the church. It is estimated that by 1934, 10,000 bingo games were played weekly. Today ninety million dollars are spend playing bingo each week in North America.

Bingo in the United Kingdom

Bingo is fairly new in the UK and was not well known until 1960, when the Gaming Act was passed permitting bingo in members only establishments. Bingo in the UK was a commercial operation and developed quite distinctly from the bingo played in the United States.

British bingo halls were more plush than the America counterparts. Theatrical methods and devices for producing random numbers were used. Because these methods were easy to rig, the widespread adoption of electronic random number generators were used during the next decade. In 1968 new gaming laws were passed which further raised the popularity of the game.

Bingo in France

From Italy Lotto was introduced to France in the 1770's and is called Le Lotto and was loved by the French intelligentsia. The French game differed from bingo as we know it as chips instead of balls were used to cover rows instead of patterns used today.

Bingo in Germany

The Germans found a practical use for the game and used it in the 1800's as a teaching tool to help students learn history, spelling and math skills. There were games such as Historical Lotto, Spelling Lotto and Animal Lotto. It was considered an educational tool until 1929 when it was then looked upon as a form of adult diversion.

Today bingo is enjoyed all around the world and it makes no difference if it is played in bingo halls, fire station garages, church basements or online because all bingo players have something in common... They all enjoy the friendly social quality that the game offers, in fact that may even be more important than winning.

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