Bingo - History of Bingo


The modern version of Bingo was created in 1929 by Edwin S. Lowe, a toy salesman who lived in Brooklyn, New York. He based it on a game called "Beano" he saw being played at a carnival in Atlanta, Georgia. Beano was played by covering numbers with dried beans. Edwin Lowe made new cards with five rows and five columns of numbers. He renamed the game "Bingo", and started selling 24-card sets. Later, he worked with a mathematician from Columbia University to make more than 6000 different Bingo cards.

Bingo became very popular when it was used by churches and organizations to raise money. A Catholic priest in Pennsylvania liked the game Edwin Lowe was selling, and was the first to ask if he could use it to raise money for his church. In 1934, more than ten thousand games of Bingo were being played every week. Now, more than $90 million is spent on Bingo games each week in North America.

  • The earliest game like Bingo was played around the year 1530 in Italy. The origins of Bingo can be traced back to the Italian Lottery Game, "Il Gioco del Lotto d'Italia". The French started playing a similar game, "Le Lotto", in the 1770s.

  • "Beano" may have been brought to the United States by Hugh J. Ward. He wrote a rule book for his version of the game in 1933.

  • It is claimed that Edwin Lowe first tested playing "Beano" with a group of his friends in New York. One shouted "Bingo!" when she won, and the name stuck.

  • A different style of Bingo is played in the United Kingdom. It has three rows, each with five numbers and four blank squares. A similar game called "Housie" is played in Australia, New Zealand, and India.

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