From a humble game played with scraps of card and dried beans, to the global multi billion pound industry it is today, few could have predicted that the game of bingo would not only survive but flourish over the course of a 500-year history. At bingo, the game can now be played 24/7, wherever players can access the internet, whether that’s via PCs and laptops or smartphones and tablets.
The game can be traced all the way back to 16th Century Italy, where Il Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia is thought to have been the forerunner of the game we know and love today. Making its way through Europe, bingo arrived in France in the 18th Century, before Germany took to using the game as an educational tool for children.
Finding fame in America
Bingo as we know it today, with numbered playing cards and bingo balls, became synonymous with Hugh Ward in the 1920s. The American entrepreneur not only copyrighted the name bingo, and published the first set of standardised rules, but helped the game grow in popularity throughout Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania, as he set up games at carnivals and funfairs across the States.
New Yorker and toy maker Edward Lowe sensed an opportunity, and began to introduce the game to his friends, producing bingo packs for sale in the 1930’s. Bingo became a huge success, being played at funfairs, church halls and community gatherings across the US, often used as a way of raising money for the church or for charities.
As dedicated bingo halls began to spring up all over the country, the game would go on to become a familiar pastime to people of all ages, from all walks of life, just as it is today.
Bingo made a significant leap from the local bingo hall to the high-stakes casino world with the advent of electronics. In the 1970’s, computer technology would transform the game, and not for the first time. Electronic bingo machines soon joined the casino floor alongside traditional slots, as players adjusted to the computer age and enjoyed a whole new way to play.
For the first time, the centuries-old game of bingo would be teamed with the latest technological advancements to transform the game for a new generation of bingo fans – a pattern that’s continued right up to the present day. Electronic bingo machines became more and more sophisticated in terms of graphics and sounds as computer technology progressed, and with the 21st Century just around the corner, the internet arrived to transform bingo once more.
The internet age
As the world wide web began to spread, few could have predicted just how dramatically it would change our lives, and even fewer would have predicted that it would lead to a bingo revolution! Now, 85% of the bingo played in the UK takes place online, and this simple game has lent itself to each new wave of cutting edge technology as it’s emerged.
From online bingo sites, to social media platform games, to apps allowing players to get their bingo fix on the go via mobile, the game’s adaptability ensures that bingo will always be with us, in one form or another, whenever we’re looking for a bit of frivolous fun.