While bingo may be close to 500 years old, in many ways it is a thoroughly modern game and one that keeps evolving. Today, bingo is enjoying a huge resurgence; online bingo sites is flourishing, bingo halls are attracting more and more players, and a new breed of bingo events are massively popular with younger players. Here we shall take a brief look at the evolution of bingo and the ways in which it has developed into the game we know and love today.
Most agree that bingo’s roots can be found in Italy. The game was created as a lottery in 1530 and was known as ‘Il Gioco del Lotto d’Italia’. This lottery game was an instant hit and it wasn’t long before it started to spread around Europe.
As with other types of gambling, such as baccarat, the Italian bingo game became hugely popular with the French aristocracy. In France, it was called ‘Le Lotto’ and it didn’t take long to jump across the English Channel to Britain. After arriving in Britain, this game gradually began to evolve into a form of bingo that would be recognisable today and by 1778, it was hugely popular up and down the country.
It was during this period in the late 18th century that bingo truly began to flourish and this is why many people today believe it to be a British game. Bingo was played in the cities and larger towns, and from Britain, it soon found its way to the United States, where it became just as popular.
While it is not definitive, there is evidence that the game first became known as Bingo in the United States in 1929. The story goes that a toy manufacturer named Edwin S Lowe first came across the game at a carnival in Georgia. There is was known as ‘Beano’ simply became players were using beans to mark the numbers as they played. Lowe enjoyed playing so much that he took it home and started playing with his friends. Apparently one friend was so thrilled with winning that she accidentally shouted out “Bingo!” instead of “Beano!” and the name stuck.
Lowe went on to print bingo cards, increasing the number of possible games, and then packed it up and started selling it under the name ‘Bingo’. Lowe later went on to become the first to market and sell the popular dice game Yahtzee.
Bingo was soon exploding in popularity on both sides of the Atlantic. It was particularly popular with British soldiers and US troops during the World Wars. Many people also turned to bingo as a form of affordable entertainment during the difficult interwar years. It didn’t take long for bingo events to start popping up in both countries, mainly as a form of raising money for charities and commercial projects.
Towards the end of the 1990s, it seemed as if the popularity of bingo was in decline. Fewer and fewer people were visiting bingo halls and they were failing to attract younger players. It wasn’t long before bingo halls were starting to close their doors and many wondered if the game would ever recover.
However, as with many things, the internet has come to the rescue. Online gambling of all forms has been popular for close to thirty years now, and there are no signs of it slowing down. It didn’t take long for the first online bingo sites to appear and they have never looked back.
Another important moment for online bingo’s evolution came in 2013 when 15 Network, a network for online bingo players, went live and helped take the game truly mobile. Since then, online bingo has been flourishing with a huge number of players enjoying the game at any given time. There are several excellent online bingo sites for players to choose from and numerous forms of the game on offer.
Furthermore, new forms of bingo are regularly appearing. Recently, Slingo games have become more popular, combining slots and bingo into an exciting game that satisfies players of both.
Technology is also allowing online bingo sites to offer the same type of social experience that once made bingo halls so popular, with chat games and live presenters, and this is sure to develop further. It has truly been a remarkable 500 years for the game of bingo and there is every reason to believe that the next 500 will be just as exciting.