If you talk to the average person, their historical interpretation of how the game of Bingo came about might be that it was invented by old ladies at an indoor bake sale. The truth is though that Bingo, like many other games, has a very rich history behind it that has led the game through several centuries to the point it is at today. Here’s a look at where the game began and some of the interesting side stories that shaped what we now call Bingo.
Credit Italians for being the original innovators of Bingo as they came up with the idea in the 16th century when they were seeking a way to raise more money for the government. In their quest for a way bring in more revenue, Italian officials were able to concoct something called Lo Giucco del Lotto D’Italia which was a Bingo-type game used to pick winners in their national lottery. Over the years other countries started to notice the game Italy was using for their unique lottery system and began to adopt their own form of it.
The late 1700’s saw France become the first country to jump on the bandwagon with their version of Lo Giucco del Lotto D’Italia in a game called Le Lotto. The only downside to Le Lotto was that its player base was pretty selective as it consisted mostly of rich Frenchmen, and it was an absolute no-no for females to partake in the game.Making its way in another direction from Italy to the North, Bingo eventually turned up in Germany around the 1880’s as a fun school aid for children.
The German used their bingo snooper to help teach school kids various subjects – especially math! Satta From Germany and France, Bingo would soon be found in many other European countries over the next few decades. Even though what would eventually become Bingo was being played in various countries and in lots of different variations, there was not a unified structure to the game. Heck, it wasn’t even known as Bingo at the time. But much of this would soon change in 1929 when an American toy salesman by the name of Edwin Lowe was introduced to the game.
Down on his luck, Lowe had been traveling across the United States pitching his merchandise to different businesses. Luckily for him, he was fortunate enough to stumble across something on one of his stops that would bring him lots of future success. Edwin decided to stop in a Georgia county fair as he was early for a sales appointment and noticed some people playing a game that featured a card with beans. The players were placing the beans on the cards when numbers were called out and the winners would yell “Beano” when they made a particular pattern.
Interestingly enough, one of the players accidentally yelled ” instead when Lowe was in the tent where the game was being played. Noticing the excitement that the game generated and the fact that he wasn’t even able to get in a game before the tent shut down, Lowe took his “Bingo” version of the game and ran with it. He began selling his Bingo game for $1.00 to customers and it became an instant hit.
Unfortunately for Lowe, so much success meant he soon had plenty of competition in the field from other toy sellers. But once again Edwin would catch a break as a Pennsylvania Catholic priest approached him with a proposition. The priest had been using Bingo as a fundraising tool for his church and it was working magnificently. The only problem though was that the current cards were limited in number combinations so multiple winners were turning up in every game. The priest wanted Edwin Lowe to come up with cards that featured more number combinations that he could buy off Lowe’s company.