Bingo is currently one of the most widely played games in the world. Bingo nights at community centers are common knowledge. The phenomenon of bingo games played online is quite recent.
Do you ever ponder the origins of things?
Historically speaking, the game we now know as bingo was a lottery. The Italian National Lottery was established by the newly unified Italian government in 1530. Since then, the Lottery has taken place frequently, usually once every week. Today the Lottery is vitally indispensable to the Italian government — earning more than $75 million yearly!
The academic community started talking about Lotto in 1778. Traditional Lotto cards featured three horizontal and nine vertical rows. There were five numbered squares and four empty squares on each horizontal row. There were 1–10 in the first vertical row, 11–20 in the second, and so on, all the way up to 90 in the final vertical row. Each Lotto ticket was one of a kind. Each participant would receive one lotto card and the winning number would be drawn from a bag of chips numbered one through ninety. When their cards were being read, players hid the numbers. The winner was the player who reached the end of a horizontal row first. The 1800s saw the rise of the first wave of truly successful educational video games. Lotto games were developed to educate children spelling, multiplication tables, animals and history. Similar games remain popular in today’s intensely competitive toy and gaming market.
One evening in December 1929, toy salesman Edwin S. Lowe stopped at a carnival a few miles outside Jacksonville. There was only one booth open, and the rest of the restaurant was closed. A large number of individuals crowded around the booth. Someone would shuffle a bag of numbers and read off a random set. Each player would next check his or her own card to determine if it matched the winning number. Anyone who completed a row of numbers across, down, or diagonally and shouted “Beano” first was declared the winner. The prize for the winner would be a miniature Kewpie doll. The name “Beano” came from the name of the game.
About a year into running his own toy business, Lowe recognized the opportunity presented by this game. At home, he decided to make his own beano game, so he went out and purchased some card and a rubber number stamp. After trying the game out on some pals, he noticed how much fun it was and how nearly addictive it was. His new game was named Bingo after one of his friends yelled it instead of beano.
Two different sets of bingo cards were available for the original Lowe bingo game: one with 12 cards costing $1, and the other with 24 cards costing $2. As soon as it was out, everyone wanted to play the game. Sure enough, he wasn’t the only one who saw bingo’s potential. Soon after, a slew of copycats entered the market. Since Lowe was unable to secure a patent for Bingo, he offered to pay his rivals a dollar if they would simply use the name.
A priest from a tiny parish approached Lowe a few months later. It was recommended by a member of his congregation that they use the bingo night as a fundraiser to help the church pay off some of its debts. The pastor went to Lowe’s and picked up a couple bingo game sets, but he never had less than six winners.
Even while Lowe recognized the game’s scalability potential, he also realized that a massive range of bingo card numbers would need to be created. He approached Carl Leffler, a retired mathematics professor from Columbia University, with the task of creating 6,000 new cards with unique digits. Professor agreed to charge for more cards. But as the lecture went on, the professor ran into trouble making new bingo cards. Irritated by the delay, Lowe ended up paying Leffler more than $100 for each replacement bingo card. A conclusion had been reached, but it was said that the professor had gone insane.
Bingo quickly became one of the most well-liked pastimes in North America, and it has maintained its status as a favored pastime all the way up to the present day. Although its historical roots are in church hall fundraisers, modern Bingo has expanded well beyond that.
Online bingo first appeared around the turn of the millennium. Over the course of just five years, it surpassed the popularity of going to the movies or a concert. Online bingo games are widely regarded as the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Of course, there’s a lot more to online bingo than just a game. It’s a nice spot to hang out with pals and take it easy. Who knew that the best game ever played had been played for so long?