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Bingo can trace its origins to Italy around the year 1530. In 1530, a state run lottery game called “Lo Giuco de Lotto” originated. The game is still held every Saturday in Italy. "Le Lotto" migrated to France in the late 1700s in a form similar to the Bingo we know today. The initial alteration had three horizontal rows and nine vertical rows with numbered and blank squares in random arrangements. The columns were broken into sets of 10 numbers, 1-10, 11-20, all the way up to 90 in the last column. The bingo balls were chips in those days, and pulled out of a sac by the caller. The first player to cover a horizontal row was declared the winner.

Germany used Bingo as a teaching device in the 1800’s. A version existed to teach its youth multiplication tables, spelling, history and biology. This holds true today as well, as a stroll through any toy store will yield numerous versions of bingo games to teach counting and numbers.

American bingo, or the bingo we know today, sort of began in 1929. It all started with a game called “beano” which was very similar to the Italian and French versions of Bingo. It was played at a Carnival near Atlanta, Georgia. It consisted of some dried beans, a rubber stamp and some cardboard. A New York toy salesman, named Edwin Lowe, observed the game, in which a player yelled “beano” when he filled a row. When Lowe introduced it to his friends in New York, Bingo got its new name. One of the players, in her excitement, managed to garble, “beano” into “bingo”. Lowe decided then, that the new game would be called bingo.

One story always mentioned when discussing the history of bingo is about the one man who went insane over the game (yes, a million women have followed suit). The tale goes as so: Lowe was approached a couple of years after the release of Bingo by a parishioner who had adopted the game as a church fundraiser. The parishioner had come across the problem of cards with the same number combinations, in which there were multiple winners on the same game. To circumvent this Lowe approached a preeminent mathematician of the time, Carl Leffler of Columbia University. Leffler took on the task of creating 6000 unique Bingo cards, slowly working them out one card at a time. Being paid on a cards produced basis, Leffler found the more he made the harder his job was, and near the end was charging $100 for each unique card produced. As the story goes, soon after completing the task of creating all 6000 cards, the professor went insane, perhaps by direct result!

Since then, Bingo has spread across the country. Nearly every town has its own Bingo night.

Also, there have been some improvements to the game since it’s origination. We now have magnetic bingo chips, which make it much easier for players with carpal tunnel, arthritis, and other movement problems to enjoy a game of bingo. Also, we have the colored dabber, which puts colored ink on your bingo paper, taking the place of chips. Also, there are the special games of bingo, for which there are templates, so you don’t have to search your whole card.

Bingo calling has advanced as well. There are now lighted bingo boards, so callers no longer have to be within earshot of the caller. These boards also allow the hearing impaired to play bingo. And, for the blind, there are Braille bingo cards. With all of the advancements, everyone can enjoy a game of bingo.

But, what about the future of bingo? No one really knows how far bingo will go. Right now it’s a crazed, fanatical, addicting game of fun. But, you can be sure that these sites will keep you up to date in the wonderful world of bingo.
History courtesy of The A2Z Bingo Directory.

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