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Bingo Game History

The history of the game goes back to 1530 in Italy with a lottery called Lo Giuoco Del Lotto DItalia. The lottery is still being played to this day and takes place every Saturday. The game migrated to other parts of Europe and it reached France in the 1770s. Le Lotto, as it was called, was a game that was enjoyed by the high class and the rich French aristocrats. By 1880, the game reached Germany but in that country it was not a recreational game but an educational one used to help children study spelling, math and history.

Bingo first came to the United States in 1929 under the name of Beano. The game was played for the very first time in Atlanta, Georgia during a carnival. In the United States, when a player achieved a winning pattern he would yell BEANO in order to get the attention of the caller and other players to declare that he has won. This is actually the reason behind the modern name of the game Bingo: Edwin S. Lowe invented the bingo cards that we know today. He overheard someone yell Beano, but he heard it as Bingo, and this is where the name of the game came from.

Edwin Lowe was a salesman who sold toys and he thought that he could capitalize on the games popularity. He hired Carl Leffler a professor of mathematics at Colombia University to help him increase the number of combinations available on the bingo cards. Leffler succeeded greatly and he came up with more than 6,000 different combinations of cards. Lowe was then approached by a priest who asked him if they could use bingo cards to raise funds for the church. He agreed, which resulted in a spike in the popularity the game. In 1934, more than 10,000 bingo games took place every single week. Today it is estimated Americans spend more than 90 million dollars per week on bingo.

The original bingo cards had 27 squared spaces that came in the form of a 9 x 3 grid with 9 columns and 3 rows. Each row had 5 squares that contained numbers while the remaining 4 squares were empty. Each vertical column contained up to three numbers. The first columns included numbers that varied between 1-9, the second columns number varied between 10-19, the third columns numbers varied between 20-29 and so on. Of course, there are other forms of bingo cards that can be found, especially online, but this format remains to this day.


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