How Did Bingo Start?

30th September 2022
bingo

How Did Bingo Start?

How did bingo start?

As members of the Jackpotjoy community will no doubt agree, bingo is a beloved pastime across the nation. In fact, bingo is one of the most popular games played in the UK today, with up to 3 million people playing the game daily, whether that’s in a bingo hall or online. 

What’s more, bingo has a rich history in Britain, having had a home here for over a hundred years. At one time, there was a bingo hall in nearly every town and city across the nation, from Blackpool to Brighton. These days, however, the game is making a move online, and many avid bingo fans are now daubing digitally. Here at Jackpotjoy, we are proud to say that our community of online bingo players is flourishing more than ever. In fact, we are currently celebrating our 20th anniversary

Originating in Italy, Bingo started out as a lottery game, undergoing a series of evolutions before becoming the game we know and love today. But where did bingo originally come from, and how exactly did it start? Read on to find out more about the fascinating history of the game you love.

  

Where was bingo invented?

Enjoyed by London slum dwellers, French Aristocrats, and American carnival goers alike, bingo is a game with a rather illustrious past! While we can’t trace the roots of the game back to a single inventor, what we do know is that it originated in Italy around five centuries ago. Bingo has its origins in an Italian lottery game, which was created in order to help the Italian government raise funds. From there, the game is thought to have spread to France, where it was popular amongst the wealthiest members of society.

Over the course of the 18th century bingo became more mainstream in France, gradually evolving to resemble something closer to the game most people are familiar with today. ‘Le Lotto’, as it was then called, featured 90 numbers and a grid layout, which inspired the modern design of the game.

While ‘le lotto’ was gaining notoriety in France, many lottery-style games were developing across the channel at the same time. These illegal games of chance were particularly popular with London’s slum dwelling population. While we don’t know exactly when or how ‘bingo’ was first conceptualised, the earliest report we have of the game cropping up on British soil dates back as far as 1716!

Who invented bingo?

By the late 19th and early 20th century, early versions of modern bingo were being enjoyed at fairs and carnivals both in the UK and throughout the United States. The game was first standardized in the 1920s by American actor Hugh J Ward, and by the 1940s, bingo in America was thriving.

Bingo halls started springing up in Britain around the same time, in places like Blackpool, Brighton and London – some of which retain a reputation for bingo today! There are even reports of soldiers playing games similar to bingo during the First World War, with gambling games being a popular pastime for soldiers during much needed down time. 


Where is bingo most popular?

Bingo truly had its heyday in Britain in the 1960s and 70s. By then, there were thousands of bingo halls dotted up and down the country, and it had come to be thought of as a quintessentially English game. Unsurprisingly, bingo has continued to be a mainstay of British culture, and with millions of Brits playing each day, the UK currently leads the global bingo market. The game has also remained a big hit in Italy, with the amount being wagered nationally growing year on year. 

In recent decades, however, bingo has taken off around the globe! After the legalisation of bingo halls in Brazil in 1993, the game has seen a huge surge in popularity throughout South America. Bingo is gaining momentum in Japan, too, with the 75-ball version of the game cementing itself as a firm favourite.


Where did the name bingo come from?

Bingo has been called many different names over the course of its long history – the French knew it as ‘Le Lotto’, while it was nicknamed Beano in America. But how did the name ‘bingo’ first come about? The answer is… no one knows for sure! 

In the early 20th century, an American version of the game saw players mark numbers off their cards with beans, hence earning itself the name ‘beano’. It is thought that the term bingo could have evolved from this, with one theory stating that a particularly over-excited player accidentally called out ‘bingo’ instead of ‘beano’ when they won the game! 

For bingo’s official rebranding, however, we can thank New York toy salesman Edwin S Lowe, who saw the potential in the game and developed over 6000 unique bingo cards in just one year. He firmly established the game of chance as ‘bingo’, and from there on out, that’s how it was known.


How popular is online bingo?

It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that bingo has seen a huge shift in culture over the past few decades. The number of brick-and-mortar bingo halls have dwindled, but there is an ever-increasing online community of bingo lovers worldwide. Overall, more than a whopping 100 million people play online bingo, all thanks to the growing online gaming industry.

Here at Jackpotjoy, bingo fans from all over can connect with each other via our chat room feature. Our members love the sense of community our gaming platform provides, and they chat with each other about anything and everything – from top bingo tips to their favourite TV shows! When you play bingo online, you’re not limited by time and space, either. There’s a game to play almost any time of day, and thanks to our mobile bingo app our players can easily log in for a game on their commute, before the school run, or last thing at night to wind down. 

 A look to the future

Bingo has evolved massively over the last five centuries to become the game we know today. It certainly still has a place in our hearts after all those years, and with the online bingo community thriving, the history of the game is still being written.

Jackpotjoy is currently celebrating its twentieth year of online fun, which is testimony to bingo’s sticking power! In true Jackpotjoy style, we’re marking the occasion with plenty of new games and offers, so head over to our promotions page to check out all the fun we’ve got in store!