Bingo Through the Ages: A Timeline of the Game’s Rich History


The charm of Bingo has been everlasting. One of the most durable forms of pastime that is known to mankind for 493 years, this game has a long history of continuous transformations. It began as a simple Lotto game in Italy and France, but only when it was brought to the US it was nicknamed Beano. This name swiftly changed to Bingo, where the players cross out numbers on their cards until a certain pattern is completed. Over the years, Bingo has evolved, succeeding in the adapting styles, modern ages, digitalization era, and coming in different looks. To explore in detail the complete history of Bingo, read on.

Chronological History of Bingo

It is believed that Bingo appeared in Italy around five hundred years ago as a form of lottery and was significantly different from the Bingo that we are familiar with nowadays. The game was very quickly popular and spread into France in the second half of the 18th century.

In the next century, the game found its way to Britain and America giving rise to famous variations like 90-Ball and 75-Ball Bingo. Also, America gave birth to Keno among other variations of Bingo.

There is a lot of history that goes with the game ready to be dug up. Come with us as we explore Bingo in more detail.

The 16th Century Era

Differing in many aspects from the game Bingo in which we are used to now, this was first played in the year 1530. It was originally called ‘The Game of Italian Lotto’ or ‘Il Gioco del Lotto d’Italia,’ and people of Italy started playing it on every Saturday.

In the primitive version, playing Bingo was much more planer. Participants having their numbers picked would hope to match the winning numbers that were released from a drum.

The 18th Century

Italian bingo was so popular in time that it also spread to the gambling ambit of France. The French, first of all the aristocrats, previously fell for this game, which was appropriately dubbed “Le Lotto.”

The French became the first people to develop an innovation that eventually resulted in the modern Bingo cards that are quite similar to the ones used in British 90-Ball Bingo. On this card were numbers represented both by lines going across and vertically.

Besides, numerals from 10 to 90 were carved on short wooden blocks. There will be someone chosen who will draw these chips one after another from a sack.

To thereby win, the billet required the participant filling out a single line only from the card. And this mechanism makes the game more like the game of Bingo we know now. However, the move pushed the game forward in France.

The 19th Century

In Germany it was realized that apart from just giving people some good time Bingo had some more educational values that makes it more than a simple recreational activity.

German teachers in the 1880s relied on Le Lotto as a pedagogical instrument for cultivating arithmetics, logic, and spelling skills in their children. This adaptation led to the creation of child-friendly versions of Le Lotto, including:

Animal Lotto

Spelling Lotto

Historical Lotto

They did that by trading the number cards with ones filled with words, animals’ sizes or math equations answers.

Teachers would be the game caller, drawing numbers or signs as teachers assigned the points on the card. Students used their creativity and various combinations of numbers and letters to create the exact pattern required on their cards to win in Bingo.

On the other hand, the English version of the game was rapidly becoming a favorite tradition of the people in the UK and was acting as the social glue. It became the most preferred mode of amusement during dinner times, exchanges, or both.

In ballrooms all over the UK, Bingo competitions were being organized on a large scale enticing multitudes with the prospect of winning sums of money or luxury trips as well as high end products.

To create a funny atmosphere, the British community invented so-called ‘Bingo Lingo’ introduced by a special vocabulary of numbers and combinations in the game.

The 20th Century

The game has been in the US and UK since the 19th and 20th centuries. Its rich marketing history started in America, and the game was finally called ‘Bingo’.

For the troops of the UK the game had a different name and it was during World War I. It came as they were shouting “House” while forming a full house pattern, and this gave them hope during the war. With the increasingly rising popularity of this game in the UK at that time, the game was still a new thing never been called “Bingo”. Some British people instead called it “Housey-Housey” when the troops brought the game back to the UK after their time in wars.

The game which was played in the ballrooms by the British, Hugh J. Ward was the one who introduced Americans to Bingo. He attached the game to many carnivals throughout Pittsburgh since the beginning of the 1920s. The mechanics of the game were similar to the UK’s: players are dealt with cards which number, the caller draws a wooden disk which has numbers, and he calls out the digit, the first person who completes the pattern gets the reward.

US players originally started naming the game Beano because they used dried beans to indicate the numbers that were being called. Out of their enthusiasm, players will call out “Beano” when they finish the given pattern, which wasn’t originally part of the rule. This sport steadily spread across US territory thanks to the traveling fairs. This is when Edwin S. Lowe, a toy merchant in New York, stumbled upon “Beano” in Atlanta, Georgia. However, he mistakenly thought the game was named “Bingo” mistakenly. As he returned to New York, he took “Bingo” to the gambling sphere in town. In 1929, he unveiled it as “Bingo” to the public, utilizing the same rented device that he witnessed in carnivals.

Lowe was approached by a Catholic priest, and they discussed instead using Bingo for funds collection by the church. It was precisely through Bingo that gambling could make inroads into Pennsylvania and be spread all around. It became a great way to raise money for the church and also to bond with the inhabitants of that community. While most states banned gambling back then, bingo was going merrily, eliminating some of the need for gambling.

Thousands of Bingo sessions every day resulted in hundreds of people participating. This issue was exemplified with only 12 or 24 cards being in such players groups, with each game having less than a 2% winning probability for at least two players. Once, a priest had one single game where 10 of the players used the same playing cards. He very much shares his problem with Lowe. Then Lowe approached Dr. Carl Leffler, who was teaching math at Columbia University. By working with Dr. Leffler, Lowe turned out 6,000 unique cards, which meant the odds of the Bingo game would change dramatically as well. In the absence of AI tools or any sort of electronics to assist in the ordeal would prove no easy feat. He issued the black and white card set himself each with a random design and a singular capture. That was the reason why after finishing the project a lot of people came and said the professor was suffering from insanity.

Bingo swept to become an instant hit in America. Hugh J. Ward who had for the first time brought it as a carnival game in the nation did create a house version. In 1933, he registered a copyright and wrote Bingo’s rulebook, which describes it as: “A game called Bingo, which is a modified and commercialized form of the game, has been adapted by stores to persuasively advertise merchandise and boost sales.”

In short span Bingo went to be a weekly game. Moreover, 10,000 games per week took place in 1934, as a majority of the games were held indoors in churches. Another charitable society adopted the principle, after which other non-profit thrived by the use of the game to get funds.

However, it is worth mentioning that Ward did not renew Bingo’s copyright, which in turn, was the unfortunate brink of his death in 1941. By Lowe’s advent and mass producing bingo in 1942 along with a patent, bingo spread like wildfire throughout the market.  Bingo became a widely-accepted game in the UK, but there was one problem. Bingo was a non-state-approved lottery, which was illegal. Then, one of the biggest laws in Bingo history was introduced. British authorities enacted the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960, legalizing commercial Bingo halls. This also paved the way for other gambling laws. The law states that Bingo gaming venues must have a members-only club setup. Instead of paying entry fees, members must pay fees and other club charges.

Players realized using beans as markers was not practical. Among many issues with this is if someone bumps into a table of players, the beans will move off the marked numbers. That leads to inaccurate results in the game.

Several solutions were considered for this issue, including window cards and the utilization of plastic discs. These methods were explored to address the challenge effectively and provide practical remedies.

Although they’re functional, they weren’t popular options. Instead, people loved Bingo blotters or daubers, which are ink bottles with a wide felt tip. Players use them to stain over the number on the card. 

Although they faced a serious but also sentimental defeat to blotters, this became a turning point for players. While the majority rely on their “lucky blotter”, others believe in order of luck that they do not need one. Other people personalize their marker by drawing a different shape and using different color inks. With the 1950’s came the rise of the Bingo craze. It was also then that the film industry was not fully developed and most people were glued to the television set. Cinema venues then transitioned into Bingo Halls, which has catapulted the game to the next level. Consistent with this, Lowe’s company actually developed and sold Bingo cards. Moreover, he is credited with several other games’ successes, for instance Yahtzee. In addition, the company produced games such as chess. But Lowe had sold his E.S. Lowe sold it to Milton Bradley in 1973 for the right price for $26 million and for the rights to the game of Bingo. Lowe continued with the angling to invest his time in Broadway shows production and took over the motel operation in Las Vegas.

Legalization and regulation of Bingo paved the way for its wide adoption. It was this which resulted in the outset of the National Bingo Game in June 1986. The National Bingo Game hosts 2-games of 90-ball Bingo each day, and the only exclusion will be on Christmas Day. It will be played simultaneously in hundreds of Bingo clubs over the UK. These clubs are generally connected and have up to 200-300 people playing the same game to get the full house.

Bingo’s undying spirit and resilience are evidenced by the fact that it is living through the ages and by countless wars around the globe. Time-tested once again proved the picture when the digital era was afoot. 1996 was a turning point in online gambling, when a Bingo site,, offered its services on the Internet. This led to the introduction of live Bingo formats in the UK later on as an effect.   

The 21st Century

The fact that Bingo has gone through a voyage of many centuries from when it emerged in Italy via 16th Century to its nowadays common version is proof that it is quite surprisingly a character that keeps up with the digital era very well. Technology remodeled the gaming scope, and Bingo tied in with these transformations perfectly.

In the year of 2005, the Texas Charity Advocates, a fundamental organization with regard to charitable gambling, was created in the State of Texas, where Bingo had been allowed for the same reason in 1982 previously. This was a major turning point, becoming a tradition, proclaiming Bingo as a game that brings support to the cause and community development. The central governing body for Bingo within the state not only supervises the game operations across all communities within the state, it also takes an important role in the education of Bingo’s social benefits to the residents of the community.

The subsequent year, we mean 2006, Almacenes Exito S.A., a preeminent retail giant in South America, strove to break grounds by organizing the biggest Bingo game back then in Bogota, Colombia. This spectacular event which broke the Guinness World record with its 70,080 participants and is a piece of evidence not only of Bingo’s universal appeal, but also of its ability to bring together a numerously large army of fans.

In the dawn of 2010s the virtual windows for Bingo flights opened, while in the late 90’s the ground for digital transition was quite laid. The leaders in this field include Microgaming that has been the pioneer in creating broad Bingo platforms where the players can experience the game in a way it has never been seen or done before. The game went live on Facebook in 2012, during the very period when the popularity of social networks was rising. This implied the wide audience of players, and the subsequent launch of the game on many devices, thus improving its accessibility options.

Online Bingo websites began to merge the casinos games into their offerings, the industry level as a whole would witness an increase. The game operated within strict licenses, aiming to develop a safe, maintained, and regulated environment for the players. As a result of this innovation and inclusiveness, gaming changed as players had a wide range of genres to choose from.

Closing Reflections

The voyage of bingo through the ages is incredible and this has it’s origin in Italy, evolving in France, settling in the UK, and an instant success in the US. These stages of Bingo’s past also show us evidence of the way it has been able to adjust and keep flourishing for centuries.

Few games can match the great age and the enduring might of Bingo as a pastime. The game has a very long lifespan and its everlasting appeal was played most significantly during the COVID.19 pandemic; when people are engaging the remote gameplay over the virtual communications channels.

What these encounters have shown is that Bingo’s timeless delight and long-term significance are always there for us. Having delved into the rich history of Bingo, if you’re eager to try your hand at online Bingo but unsure where to begin, visit this website for an exceptional online Bingo adventure.


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