History of Bingo

There is no other game that has quite stood the test of time in the way that bingo has. This is a game that has been around for centuries but is able to evolve with changing times to ensure it stays relevant and popular. It took its first form back in the 1500s as giuoco del lotto and now is most commonly played online. Few other games offer the excitement and thrill that you get from playing bingo and, of course, we cannot forget about the big cash prizes that are up for grabs.

History of Bingo

Want to know more about the history of bingo and how we went from its del lotto origins to the internet version we have today? Then make sure to carry on reading.

What is the Origin of Bingo?

Bingo has appeared prominently in many countries throughout the globe at different points in the past few centuries. Europe was the earliest adopter of the game, with Italy, France and Germany all creating their own versions of the game.


Bingo is a game that first appeared centuries ago and its bingo origin can be linked back to Italy’s version of the lottery at that time, giuoco del lotto d’italia. Del lotto d’italia, was played in 1530 and, an interesting fact is that the Italian National Lottery is still played today and contributes a massive yearly cheque of over 75 million dollars to the government budget.


Lotto d’italia then started to make its way around the world as many more countries began to adopt the game,  but changing things here and there to make it their own. France started playing Le Lotto in the 1700s and it was around this time that the version of bingo that we know today started to really take form. This game had bingo tickets with 3 rows and 9 columns and there were 90 numbers altogether. The French used wooden tokens as their bingo balls and the designated bingo caller would pick these wooden tokens at random throughout the game. Players had to cross off their numbers, with the aim of the game to cross of 1 line. Sound familiar? That’s right, it is almost identical to the 90 ball bingo game that we play today! Take away the wooden tokens, replace them with bingo balls and add in the aim of getting a second line and a full house to take it up to the modern day game we know today.


Bingo was clearly a firm favourite across Europe and Germany was no different. This game became incredibly popular during the 19th century amongst not just adults, but children too. The Germans adapted the game to help teach their children in school. They optimised games of bingo to educate children on their times tables, spelling and numbers. This educational version of bingo can still be found even today.

Who Invented the Game of Bingo?

Although bingo has its origins in, particularly, France and Italy, the invention of the game of bingo that we know today is usually given to the car salesman, Edwin S Lowe. He discovered bingo at a carnival and loved not just the game, but the audience participation too. Lowe wanted to bring this crowd pleaser to the rest of the United States and started in New York.

This version of the game was called Beano and Lowe changed some of the rules to make it more user-friendly. However, after hearing a friend shout BINGO, he decided to use that instead of Beano. As the game grew, it became harder and harder to keep winners to a minimum and create enough bingo cards. To solve this problem, Edwin S Lowe hired a professor of mathematics from Columbia University, Carl Leffler, to create 6000 bingo cards where the number weren’t repeated. It took a long time, and was expensive, but they got there in the end and so, the large-scale games of bingo were created.

When was Bingo First Played in the UK?

Bingo spread like wildfire throughout America and was loved across the country by the 1940s but it hadn’t quite caught on yet in the UK. It wasn’t until the 1950s it started to grow in the UK. The main form of entertainment at this time was the cinema, but with the introduction of televisions, more and more people began to stay home. Local councils used the game to help boost morale and get communities together after the devastating effects of World War II. They needed something new and exciting to get them back out! Enter the game of bingo.

Cinema halls had begun to shut their doors or adapt in an effort to appeal to the public. Some were turned into concert halls, others dance halls, but many became bingo halls. At first, it was usually on a part-time basis, so a few nights a week the hall was used for bingo, and the rest it was transformed back into a cinema. However, as the cinema started to die and bingo took off, many permanently became bingo halls.

When the 1968 Gaming Act was passed, we saw bingo halls popping up across the country. They became the place to be not just to play games of bingo, but to socialise and grab a drink too. This reached its peak in the 1960s when there were over one thousand bingo halls across the United Kingdom.

The Birth of Online Bingo

As we saw the decline of the bingo hall, we watched the rise of online bingo sites. This first online bingo game was in 1996, but it wasn’t until 2005 to 2010 that games became much more advanced and people started flock online. In 2008, there were around 50,000 bingo players and within 15 years, there are now more than 3 million! Online bingo gives players the convenience of playing straight from their mobile device and you can play when it best suits your schedule. With lots of other like-minded players to interact with and big cash prizes up for grabs, it is easy to see why bingo has evolved into the online version that is most commonly played today.

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