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The History of Bingo

A lot of people tie the History of Bingo to the lottery. The lottery is said to have officially begun in Italy. In 1530 Italy was unified and started the first state run lottery. The actual game was but a fledging of today's Bingo, but its popularity was tremendous and quickly spread to other nations. The French lottery is the first lottery that people closely associate with today's Bingo game.

In the late 18th century (1778 has been given as a date) France's upper class became enamored with their own version of the lottery. They would buy a card divided into 9 columns and 3 rows, an elongated version of today's Bingo card in which column 1 held numbers between 1 and 10, column 2 between 11 and 20 and so on. A person (Bingo caller) would draw wooden discs numbered 1-90 out of a bag and announce the number. The first person to cover an entire row (a Bingo) would win.

This new version of the lottery, now moving closer and closer to the Bingo game, became an educational tool in Germany. Bingo's predecessor was said to help children learn their time tables and spelling. It's said that the Bingo Game we know was even altered to teach the children history.

The next step in Bingos growth was a carnival game. The game was played in Germany and taken to American carnival tents with slight revisions, moving it closer to the Bingo game we know today. Instead of filling a row vertically, a winning card could have a row diagonally or horizontally. 'Beano,' the newly named carnival game, had carnival goers going nuts trying to mark off the numbers called with beans. The winner would yell out BEANO when they had a completed line.

Edwin S. Lowe is said to be the true 'inventor' of the modern game of Bingo. He was a traveling toy salesman from New York who saw Beano being played at a carnival in Atlanta, Georgia. He immediately recognized the games potential. Back in New York he organized what would become the first Bingo game in his apartment with some friends. A woman grew so excited with the game that when she finally won she stumbled on the word Beano and stuttered out Bingo instead. An excited Lowe had a new creation on his hands by accident.

Lowe started selling Bingo cards in sets of 12 and 24 (one dollar and two dollar cost, respectively). Knowing that the game had originally come from public domain, Lowe knew he could not prevent imitators from selling their own form of Bingo. All he asked was that anybody using the word Bingo paid him a dollar a year. And the modern game of Bingo was born.

Technology has brought us a long way since the first modern Bingo game was played. Imagine the long hours that went into figuring out the thousands of possible combinations of letters and numbers on Bingo cards. Now with computers this tedious work can be done in seconds. There are literally thousands of new variations on the original game. More people play Online Bingo than ever before.

By: JC Davis

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