Where Does Bingo Come From?
Bingo is one of the oldest – and most popular – casino games. Between April 2018 and March 2019, bingo generated more than £1 billion in the United Kingdom alone, with the greatest share of this coming from main stage games.
In fact, the popularity of designated halls is partly why bingo has endured as long as it has. While bingo halls ensure that the game can be enjoyed by people who play exclusively offline, there are also a range of online bingo games at liveroulette.com opening it up to a wider audience.
But bingo has come a long way before it ended up in our town halls and on our tablets. If you want to know more about where it came from, this post will guide you through the history of bingo, from Italy in the 1500s to our back pockets today.
From Italy to France: 1530 to 1770
Although the exact origins of bingo are difficult to pin down, the most likely explanation is that it developed from an Italian lottery known as ‘Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia’. Originally launched sometime around the year 1530, the rules of the game saw players cross numbers off a card in accordance with winning numbers pulled out of a sack. It’s still played every Saturday in Italy to this day!
By the 1770s, ‘Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia’ was so popular that it crossed the border into France, where it became known as ‘Le Lotto’. Here, the game morphed into a version which is more similar to the bingo we know and love today. The cards were changed so that the numbers were arranged in rows, much like those on a modern-day 90 Ball bingo card.
The Game Arrives in Britain: 1800s
In the early 1800s, the game finally arrived in Britain – almost 300 years after its birth in Italy. It became an immediate sensation, particularly in East London. In fact, much of what would later become known as the famous ‘bingo lingo’ (referring to the phrases commonly used by bingo callers) comes from Cockney rhyming slang. This includes ‘One Little Flea’ for number 3, ‘Duck and dive’ for number 25, and ‘Getting Plenty’ for number 20.
Other examples of ‘bingo lingo’ have a strong military connection. This is because British soldiers also enjoyed playing bingo, which they referred to as ‘Housey-Housey’.
‘Beano’ in the United States: 1929
In the United States, the game we now call ‘bingo’ arrived under the name ‘beano’ in 1929. So-called because players used beans to cover up the numbers on their card, ‘beano’ apparently first appeared at a carnival in Atlanta, Georgia – where a toy salesman named Edwin S. Lowe was inspired by the game.
As with modern-day bingo, players of beano had to stand up and shout ‘beano!’ once they’d crossed off a row. It’s said that Edwin Lowe overheard one excited player shout ‘bingo’ by mistake and, struck by how catchy the word was, decided to coin the term to sell commercial boxed bingo games.
This story may just be legend. After all, some sources suggest the word ‘bingo’ was already being used in the UK in the late 1920s. But however it got its name, one thing is certain: bingo is among the best-loved casino games all over the world.