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Where did Bingo begin? The history for one of the world's most popular pastimes

What springs to mind when you think of bingo? For some, it
might be the game your Gran used to play in the evenings with friends. For others,
it might be a game that you give little thought to at all. But over 3 million
Britons play bingo in halls and more than 100 million play live and online bingo
around the world. The game has been popular for decades and has experienced a
resurgence in popularity recently as it evolves to keep up with trends and
demand in the form of online bingo. But where did bingo begin?

Legend has it that bingo first began in Italy, originating
from their traditional lottery game “Il Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia” in the 1500s.
From there it moved to France in the late 1700s where its name evolved to “Le
Lotto”. Traditionally played by wealthy Frenchmen and the aristocracy, “Le
Lotto” had changed as it travelled across Europe. This version featured 27
squares, laid out in three rows and nine columns. With numbers from 1-90
randomly arranged in the boxes, it is this design which has survived the test
of time and we see in bingo halls and online today. Like today’s version, “Le
Lotto” saw a caller pick a wooden number token and read the number out loud. If
players had this number on their card they’d cover it, with the first to cover
an entire horizontal line crowned the winner.

While bingo is a fun pastime enjoyed by many people today, in
19 century Germany the game was also been used as an educational
tool to teach children their times tables, animals names, spelling, and
history!

The game travelled to North America in the 1920s where its
name evolved to “Beano” – players used to shout this when they found all
numbers in a row. It’s widely believed that American toymaker Edwin Lowe was
travelling when he stumbled across a carnival in Georgia. Exploring the
carnival, Edwin came across a crowd of people playing a game called “Beano”.
The caller was pulling numbered wooden disks out of a cigar box and calling it
aloud, while players frantically tried to see if the number appeared on their
card. If it was there, they’d place a bean on the number.

The end of the game
came when a player filled an entire line – horizontally, vertically or
diagonally – with beans and shouted “Beano!” It seems that Edwin Lowe couldn’t
shake the idea that this game was popular, so when he returned home to New York
he set about making his own version of the game. Using a rubber numbering stamp,
a card board, and dried beans he gathered his friends and they all began
playing. All of his friends loved it, and it’s believed that this enthusiasm is
responsible for the game’s name that we know and love today.

It’s said that one
player was so excited and enthusiastic that he’d won, he cried “Bingo” instead
of “Beano.” The name stuck. Several years later, the game was a hit with more than
just Lowe’s friends – by the 1940s people were playing bingo across the
country.

The game migrated to the UK and was greeted with huge popularity in
the 1960s and has continued to this day.

Today, bingo has evolved significantly since its humble
origins as a traditional Italian lottery game. It’s thought that 3 million
people play bingo in bingo halls in the UK, and the introduction of online bingo
has seen the game’s popularity rocket in recent years. The format of bingo has made
its transition over to the online world a simple one, with more and more people
choosing to play bingo online on sites such as Vernons
.

With over 100 million people
playing bingo around the world, it seems as if the game is here to stay.  

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