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USA Bingo History

Learn about Bingo's surprisingly long history and development, from its origins in Europe to the American developments which made it the game we know today. 

Bingo is ultimately a descendant of an Italian game called "Lo Giuoco del Lotto D'Italia" which is still played on Saturday evenings in Italy today.  The Italian game dates from around 1530AD but was later introduced to France around the 1770s where it was known as "Le Lotto" and was popularly played by France's wealthy elite.  The game arrived in Germany in the 19th-century where it was taught to children to teach them maths, language and other educational lessons.

The game reached the USA in 1929 where it was known as "Beano".  It was first noted at a carnival near Atlanta, Georgia where Edwin Lowe (the famous games impresario) saw the possible commercial prospects for the game based on the enthusiastic interest of the players taking part.  He subsequently hired a university professor, Carl Leffler, to work out more possible combinations for bingo cards.  A year later he is said to have found over 6,000 different combinations and is then said to have gone insane.  Edwin Lowe is said to have introduced the game to his circle of friends who played it enthusiastically.

The name of the game is allegedly said to have been changed from "beano" to "bingo" when a winning player shouted out the word mistakenly in his excitement.  This claim is suspect due to the previously recorded references to "Bingo" from much earlier in history.  The word "bingo" has its earliest recorded reference from England in 1776.

By the 1940s Edwin Lowe is said to have popularised the game across the USA.  His version of the game had beaten all competitors and all he asked for was that the name of the game be called "Bingo" and that he received $1.00 for every year the game was operated.   Churches took up playing the game as a way of raising funds and spread its popularity. Today more than $90 millions are spent on Bingo each week in the USA alone and even more spent around the rest of the world.










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