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The History Of Bingo - Everyone’s Chosen Game

By: Anne Morris

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The earliest Bingo games were played in Italy, somewhere around the year 1530, and played a role in the unification of the country. At that time, Italy started its own lottery system, called Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia, which was done on a weekly basis. Surprisingly enough, this lottery is still around today, and is one of the major sources of income for the government of Italy, bringing in approximately $75,000,000 every year to the national budget.

In those early days, the game of Bingo was known as Le Lotto, and soon became very popular in France as well. The version that France adopted was slightly different than the Italian game played in 1530, and was actually pretty similar to the Bingo games that we play today. Each participating Le Lotto player was given a card with three lines going across, and nine lines going up and down, and as numbers were called, players covered up their cards. The player who was able to fill a row all the way across was declared the winner.

Other European countries soon started playing their own versions of the game. Teachers even used their own version to help children living in Germany learn multiplication. At this time, the game was still known as lotto, and went on to be used in many teaching and educational tools throughout the years.

After being dubbed Lotto, the game eventually was called Beano, before finally being dubbed Bingo many years later. The original game of Beano was often played at carnivals and fairs, and consisted of a horseshoe table with cards on top. Players would claim a numbered card, and the game leader would call out numbers, much as they do in Bingo today. As the numbers on the cards were called, those players would place a bean on top of the corresponding number on their cards.

The first player that covered one full line was declared the winner, and got a prize, which was usually a small doll. A toy inventor and salesman known as Edwin Lowe happened upon one of these games in 1929, but was unable to play because there were so many people lined up at the booth. When Lowe went home, he constructed his own version of the game, and invited friends and colleagues over to give it a try. Of course, the game was a big hit, and the more people played the more they wanted to keep playing.

During one of these games, one player got so intense that rather than yelling Beano when she had filled her line, she called Bingo, giving Lowe the idea to name his version of the game Bingo.Lowe soon became a successful toy salesman, and actually sold the rights to his game, so that other inventors could make their own versions, but keep the same name. Bingo soon spread like wildfire throughout the United States, thanks to Lowe’s insight in letting others use the same name.

Soon, people started using Bingo for fundraising events, which really helped increase its popularity. Lowe played an integral role in inventing and developing many other Bingo-style games as well, all leading up to the game of Bingo that we all know and love today.

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