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The History Of The Bingo Game

The bingo game is one of the most popular games in the world today. Most people are familiar with bingo games in town halls. Now there is a relatively new trend – the online bingo game. Have you ever wondered where it all started? The modern day bingo game was originally a form of lottery. When Italy was united in 1530, the government instituted the Italian National Lottery. The Lottery has been held almost every week since then.

Today the Lottery is absolutely indispensable to the Italian government - earning more than $75 million yearly! In 1778 Lotto caught the attention of the intellectuals. The classic Lotto game consisted out of a card that was divided into three horizontal and nine vertical rows. Each horizontal row had five numbered and four blank squares in a random arrangement. The vertical rows contained numbers from 1 to 10, the second numbers from 11 to 20, continuing up to 90. All the Lotto cards were unique.

Players would be dealt a single lotto card, whilst someone would draw chips, marked from 1 to 90, from a bag and read the number aloud. Players covered the numbers on their cards if it were read. The first player to cover a complete horizontal row was the winner. In the 1800’s educational games became popular. Lotto games were adapted to teach children spelling, multiplication tables, animals and history. Even today, in the very competitive toy and game market, similar games are popular. One evening in December 1929, toy salesman Edwin S. Lowe stopped at a carnival a few miles outside Jacksonville. Everything was closed except for one booth. The booth was packed with people.

Someone would draw numbers from a bag and read it aloud. The players would all check their cards to see whether they got the number. The winner was the first person who filled a horizontal, vertical or diagonal row of numbers and yelled “Beano”. The winner would than receive a small Kewpie doll as price. As you can guess, this game was called Beano. Lowe, who has owned his own toy store for about a year, saw the potential of the game immediately. Back home he bought some card and a rubber number stamp and produced his own beano game. Testing it on his friends he soon realized that the game was almost addictive and lots of fun. When one of his friends yelled Bingo instead of beano he knew he had found the name of his new game! The first Lowe bingo game had two variations – a 12 card set for one dollar and a 24 card set for two dollar. The game was an instant success and soon became popular.

Of course he was not the only one to recognize the potential of the bingo game. Many imitators soon tried to market the game. Lowe could not patent the game, but offered to pay his competitors $1 if they would call it Bingo. A few months later Lowe was approached by a priest from a small parish. Someone in his parish suggested that they use the bingo game as a fundraiser to help the church out of its financial trouble. The priest bought a few sets of Lowe’s bingo game, but unfortunately always had six or more winners. Lowe immediately saw the potential expansion of the game, but also knew that a huge variation of numbers for the bingo cards will have to be developed. He asked an elderly mathematics professor at Columbia University, Carl Leffler, to devise 6,000 new cards with non-repeating numbers. The professor agreed for a fee for each new card. But, as the professor continued, he found that it became increasingly difficult to produce new bingo cards.

Lowe was impatient and at the end he paid Leffler more than $100 per new bingo card. Finally the task was completed, but rumor had it that the professor lost his sanity! Soon the bingo game was one of the most popular games in North America, and it remains so until today. Many associate it with fundraising, but today Bingo is much more than a fundraiser in church halls. About ten years ago the online bingo game was developed. Within five years it became even more popular than going to the movies or concerts! Many would agree that online bingo games are the best thing since sliced bread. Of course online bingo is much more than just a game. It is a place to be with friends and to relax. Who would have guessed that one of the best games ever had such a long history?.


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