Bingo - history of the game

The variants of Bingo games in ground based casinos and on the Internet today have nothing to do with the usual gambling games. Perhaps they are very similar to Keno, but they are definitely not simplified versions of the Chinese lottery. Not many people know that long ago, the bingo game was called “Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia”, “Le Lotto”, and “Beano”. As a matter of fact, the history of bingo is very interesting.

It is assumed that the ancestor of modern bingo is an Italian lottery called “Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia” which appeared in 1530 and which very quickly became very popular. In the 16th century, it was the custom for the game to be played only one day every week, on Saturdays. By 1778, “Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia” began to spread in France and became very popular among the wide circles of the intelligentsia where it was called “Le Lotto”.

In 1850, in Germany the game was used for educational purposes. In order to teach children in a much more interesting way and therefore, much easier, spelling, multiplication tables, history and zoology, special bingo games were issued. There were cases at the universities where the bingo rules were analyzed, studying the theory of probability. Even today, different variants of educational bingo are widely used in many countries around the world.

By 1800, most European countries already knew about the game. Only in 1930, the game began to spread among the population of the United States where it was called “Beano”. Many researchers attribute the spread of the game to carnivals, held in Germany and very often visited by Americans. At one of these carnivals, Edwin Lowe saw people playing Beano and an idea leaped into his mind: to create a new game – Bingo.

Edwin Lowe was born in New York, in a family of businessmen. He opened his own toy company. However, after the international crisis in 1928, the company declared bankruptcy. The young man began travelling around in order to find a place where he can start a safe and profitable business. In December, 1929, he drove past a carnival and decided to stop for a while. In one of the carnival booths he saw people playing with wooden discs with numbers and cards. The dealer was calling numbers aloud and the players place beans on the cards if they had the numbers. The player who managed to fill on his card a line of numbers vertically, horizontally or diagonally, was to shout “Beano” and became a winner. The winner usually got a stuffed toy or another souvenir. Edwin Lowe played the game until late at night and liked it very much. He decided to travel with the carnival in order to learn the game better. During the trip, he changed some of the rules and made some other changes which made the game more interesting. That’s how the Bingo game was created.

In 1930 Edwin Lowe returned to New York, determined to develop the game. In order to do that, he asked Carl Leffer - a Columbia College mathematics professor to create unique bingo cards with different combinations. In a short time the professor created more than 6, 000 new bingo cards. Unfortunately, after that he became insane. Then Lowe managed to organize in New York city the first bingo lottery. The game was so successful that gained the greatest popularity among the citizens. The lottery became a wonderful source of financing used willingly by many. Even a catholic priest came to ask Lowe for permission to use bingo in order to raise some capital.