While bingo became popular in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century, the roots of the game date back to 1530. At that time a state lottery called “Lo Gioco del Lotto d’Italia” began in Italy. The French collected the lot in the late 1700s. One version used a playing card with nine columns and three rows, with four free spaces per row.
The caller reached a bag and chose the wooden chips marked from 1 to 90. The first player to cover an entire row was the winner. These lottery-type bingo games quickly became a craze throughout Europe.
Bingo as we know it today was popularized by Edwin S. Lowe, a struggling but resourceful New York toy salesman. Lowe observed a game called “Beano” in a carnival town in Atlanta, Georgia. The game was called Beano because the players used dried beans to mark their cards as the numbers came up. When a player completed a line of numbers, he or she interrupted the game by shouting “Beano!” And that player won a small prize.
Lowe saw that the players were fascinated by the game. Lowe himself was so enchanted by this new game that he brought him home and introduced him to his friends. During a game, a lady is so excited by her victory that she blurted out “Bingo!” instead of the accepted cry.
E proprio così, il bingo è nato. “Lowe’s Bingo” divenne un successo radicale e verso la metà degli anni ’30 i giochi di bingo stavano spuntando in tutto il paese, in parte perché le chiese e i club sociali realizzarono rapidamente il potenziale di raccolta fondi.
Today, 48 states offer legal bingo on a certain scale. The games range from small enough to fit into a church basement, large enough to accommodate a 1,800-seat room. Bingo players come from all walks of life. There is no stereotypical bingo player. Most like to socialize, which is why they go to bingo, and they can also enjoy other competitive group activities, such as bowling, that combine fun and friends. Most regular players are over 45, polls show, but bingo is discovered by young people every day as a new way to socialize.