History of Bingo
Bingo is a popular game of chance played around the world with many regional variations. Modern Bingo has its origins in Italy in the 1500s, where a lottery known as “Lo Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia” was held every week. The game then made its way to France, where it was simply called “La Lotto.” This early game already displayed most of the defining characteristics of modern Bingo: players of La Lotto received individual game cards, each with three horizontal rows and nine vertical columns. Numbers were printed in these rows and columns, with no two cards being identical. One person would draw numbers out of a bag and announce them to the players, who would in turn cover up the number on their cards. The first person to create a line across their card of numbers that had been called would win.
Bingo Comes to America
Variations of “Lotto” remained popular in Europe but it wasn’t until a traveling carnival worker brought the game to the United States that Americans were introduced to the game on a large scale. During the Great Depression a toy salesman and entrepreneur, Edwin S. Lowe, came across a county fair booth playing a game they referred to as “Beano,” which was, in fact, a variation of European “Lotto.” If a player formed a line of numbers, they yelled out “Beano!” to signal they had won. Lowe watched as players were captivated by the game late into the night and got the idea to market a home version of the game himself. While playing it with a group of his friends, one woman allegedly yelled out “Bingo!” by mistake, which Lowe then took as the name of his game.