The Untold Story of Bingo: Historical Facts and Curious Trivia


Bingo is a game that has been enjoyed by people worldwide for centuries. While most people are familiar with the game’s basic rules, few know its fascinating history. The origins of bingo can be traced back to 16th-century Italy, where it was known as “Il Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia.” Over time, the game spread throughout Europe, eventually reaching the United States in the early 20th century.

Despite its popularity, the history of bingo is often overlooked. Many interesting facts and stories surrounding the game have yet to be widely known. For example, did you know that bingo was originally used as a teaching tool for children in Germany? Or that the game was once banned in the UK because it was seen as a form of gambling? These are just a few of the many fascinating details that make up the untold story of bingo.

In this article, with research provided by, we will explore the historical facts and curious trivia surrounding the bingo game. From its humble beginnings in Italy to its current status as a beloved pastime worldwide, we will delve into the rich history of this iconic game. Whether you are a seasoned bingo player or simply curious about its origins, this article will provide a comprehensive look at the history of bingo.

The Origins of Bingo

Bingo is a popular game that has been enjoyed by people all over the world for centuries. Its origins can be traced back to Europe, specifically Italy and France. The game has undergone several modifications and adaptations, but its basic structure remains unchanged.

From Italy to France

The first version of Bingo was played in Italy in the 16th century. It was known as “Il Gioco del Lotto d’Italia” or “The Italian Lottery”. The game was played with a card with three rows and nine columns, and each row contained five numbers and four blank spaces. The numbers were drawn from a bag, and the first person to cover all the numbers in a row would win the game.

In the 18th century, the game was introduced to France, where it was called “Le Lotto”. The French version of the game had a slightly different card layout, with three rows and nine columns, but each row contained only five numbers and four blank spaces.

Le Lotto to Beano

In the early 20th century, a carnival game called “Beano” was introduced in the United States. The game was played with a card with 24 numbered spaces and a free space in the centre. The numbers were drawn from a cigar box, and players would cover the numbers on their cards with beans.

The game was a huge success, and it wasn’t long before a toy salesman named Edwin S. Lowe saw the game’s potential. He hired a mathematician to help him create more unique card combinations, and he also changed the name of the game to “Bingo” after overhearing a player accidentally yell “Bingo” instead of “Beano”.

Today, Bingo is played worldwide in traditional and online bingo halls. The game has come a long way from its humble beginnings in Italy and France, but it retains its basic structure and remains a popular pastime for people of all ages.

Bingo’s Evolution Through Time

Bingo has a rich history that spans centuries and continents. The game has undergone many changes, and various social, cultural, and historical factors have influenced it. In this section, we will explore the evolution of bingo through time, focusing on the church’s role, bingo in the UK and US, and modern bingo developments.

The Role of the Church

Bingo is strongly connected to the church, particularly in its early years. In the early 1900s, a Catholic priest from Pennsylvania approached Edwin S. Lowe about using bingo to raise church funds. Lowe saw the game’s potential and started manufacturing bingo sets, which were soon used in churches nationwide. By 1934, an estimated 10,000 bingo games were played weekly, and the game had become a staple of church fundraising.

Bingo in the UK and US

Bingo has a long and varied history in the UK and US. In the UK, the game was originally known as “housey-housey” and was played in pubs and clubs. In the 1960s, the National Bingo Game was introduced, which allowed players to win larger prizes and helped to popularise the game further.

In the US, bingo was initially known as “beano” and was played at county fairs and carnivals. The game was first played with beans as markers, hence the name “beano”. In 1929, a New York toy salesman named Edwin S. Lowe discovered the game at a carnival and saw its potential. He hired a math professor from Columbia University named Carl Leffler to create 6,000 unique bingo cards, and the game soon became a national phenomenon.

Modern Bingo Developments

In recent years, bingo has continued to evolve and adapt to changing times. The game is now played online and on mobile devices, and many variations of the game are available. In the UK, bingo has become a popular pastime for people of all ages, and there are now more than 350 bingo clubs in the country. In the US, bingo remains a popular game, particularly among older adults, although it has faced some challenges due to legislation restricting its availability in certain states.

Overall, the evolution of bingo through time has been shaped by various factors, including social, cultural, and historical influences. Despite its many changes, the game has remained a beloved pastime for millions worldwide.

Cultural Impact and Notable Figures

Celebrities and Bingo

Bingo has been a popular pastime among celebrities for decades. Many famous faces across the UK have been spotted in bingo halls, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Crowe, Simon from Blue, Kian from Westlife, and Scott Mills.

Catherine Zeta-Jones is a big fan of bingo and has been spotted playing the game in various bingo halls across the UK. She even owns her own bingo set and reportedly hosts games at home.

Russell Crowe is another celebrity who has been known to enjoy a game of bingo. While filming a movie, he was spotted playing bingo in Atlanta, Georgia.

Simon from Blue and Kian from Westlife are also fans of bingo. Simon has been known to play bingo with his mum and even wrote a song about the game.

Scott Mills, the BBC Radio 1 DJ, is another celebrity who enjoys playing bingo. He has been known to host bingo games on his radio show and has even played the game with listeners.

Bingo in Popular Culture

Bingo has also had a significant impact on popular culture. The game has been referenced in numerous songs, TV shows, and films.

One of the most famous references to bingo in popular culture is the song “Eyes Down” by British band The KLF. The song features a sample of a bingo caller announcing the numbers, and the music video shows a group of people playing bingo.

Bingo has also been featured in numerous TV shows and films, including the popular UK TV show “Bingo Night Live” and the film “King of Bingo”.

Overall, bingo has had a significant cultural impact and has been enjoyed by people from all walks of life, including celebrities and those in popular culture.

Bingo in the Digital Age

The digital age has brought about significant changes in the world of bingo. With the advent of the internet, players can now enjoy their favourite game from anywhere in the world, at any time of the day. Online bingo has become increasingly popular, with many sites offering various games and attractive prizes.

The Rise of Online Bingo

The rise of online bingo has been nothing short of phenomenal. Players can now enjoy a wide range of games, including 75-ball, 80-ball, and 90-ball bingo, as well as a variety of side games, such as slots and scratch cards. Online bingo sites allow players to win attractive prizes, including cash, holidays, and even cars.

Technological Advancements and Bingo

Technological advancements have played a significant role in the development of online bingo. Graphics have improved significantly, making the games more immersive and enjoyable. Social media has also helped promote online bingo sites, with many players sharing their experiences and recommendations with friends and family.

Live bingo games have also become increasingly popular, with many online bingo sites now offering live games with real hosts and live chat. Mobile bingo has also taken off recently, with many players enjoying the game on their smartphones and tablets.

In conclusion, the digital age has significantly changed the bingo world. Online bingo has become increasingly popular, with many sites offering various games and attractive prizes. Technological advancements have played a significant role in the development of online bingo, making the games more immersive and enjoyable.

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