Bingo is one of the world’s favorite pastimes. The history of bingo has an exciting past and certainly has a rich story. It has come a long way through from its humble roots in the 14th century to the simple bean placing game of the early 1900s. The game as we know it today is a form of lottery. The game’s history can be traced back to the lottery of “Lo Giuocu del Lotto d’ Italia” played since 1530 in Italy. It is still being played today every Saturday in UK. At present, the Italian State lottery is vital to the government’s budget, with a yearly contribution of 75 million dollars. The history of bingo in France started in 1778 where it was named “Le Lotto”. In the 1800’s, bingo spread out rapidly in Europe, and made its mark in Germany amongst children, who played it for educational purposes. It was played mostly to help students learn spelling, math and history. The game of bingo reached North America in 1929 through a touring carnival, at which time it was known as “Beano”.
Bingo was originally known as “Beano” in the U.S. The game was first played at a carnival near Atlanta, Georgia. It was a country fair game where the pitchman or caller would select numbered discs from a cigar box. In the history of bingo, these players would then respond by eagerly checking their card and would place a bean on the number if it were called out. This sequence continued until someone filed a line of numbers on their card either diagonally, horizontally or vertically. This achievement was marked by the shout of “Beano” and a kewpie doll was given to the winner. The word “bingo” was coined by blissful accident. Edwin S. Lowe, a New York toy salesman renamed the game “bingo” after he overheard someone accidentally yell “bingo” instead of “beano”.
Edwin Lowe returned to New York and shared a part of the history of bingo game to his friends. They played at his apartment and Lowe assumed the responsibility of a pitchman. Lowe noticed his friend’s tension and excitement were the same as he had seen at the carnival. There were two variations in the earliest Lowe Bingo game – one dollar for a twelve-card set and a two-dollar set with twenty-four card. Thus, the game became an instant success.
The game was well trademarked but it had little chance of being protected. Lowe was very generous because instead of asking his imitators to pay him huge amount to avoid litigations, he only asked them to pay him a dollar a year and call their games Bingo. This is why even until today the history of bingo and the game itself became generic.
Lowe hired Carl Leffler, a Columbia University Math professor, to assist him increase the number of combinations in his bingo cards. Through this, they worked to expand the game. In 1930, there were more than 6,000 different bingo cards that Carl Leffler developed and caused him to lose his sanity.