The history of bingo has been traced back to the Italian Lottery, this occurred during the time of the Italian Reunification in approximated 1530. The Italian Lottery is still played every Saturday and has become a very important factor for the Italian Governments finances.
The Italian state lottery contributes $75 million to the state coffers annually. The game grew in popularity and spread to other European countries, where it took on a little of the identity of the country it was being played in. For instance in 1770 when it moved to France it was referred to as “Le Lotto” and was chiefly played by noblemen. It was during the 1800’s in Germany that the game began to take on the face of bingo and cards were drawn up that were divided into rows and columns, this is still the classical version of bingo. Wooden chips were use, numbered from one to ninety, these chips were called and the first person to complete a vertical row was declared the winner.
A carnival pitchman who was touring Germany in the 1800’s brought bingo to the USA, simultaneously changing its name to Beano, and with a little modification the game was played by using a bean to cover the numbers and the winner would call “beano”. At this stage the game could be played to win using either a horizontal, vertical or diagonal row to win.
Edwin S Lowe, who was a travelling toy salesman, was working at a Carnival near Atlanta, he saw the beano tent and went over to investigate the game, he wanted to play but could not join in as the tent was so crowded. He couldn’t believe the excitement that the game seemed to be causing, and realized the huge potential that the game had to become popular and make money.
When Edwin Lowe returned to New York from Atlanta he got hold of some cards, a rubber numbering stamp and some beans and recreated the game. In order to find out that the game would prove to be as popular as it seemed to him, he invited some friends over to play and he was correct in his assumption. The excitement for the game was overwhelming and this was how beano became bingo, one excited player won and stood up upon winning and shouted “bingo!” Edwin loved the name so much that he decided that this would be what the game would be called.
In the 1960’s after the passing of a new law by the British Government allowing the UK public to gamble in members only institutions, Eric Morley brought bingo to the British Isles. Incidentally Mr. Morley was also responsible for developing the Miss World Pageant, and the rest as they say is history, the Golden Age of Bingo had begun.