How Bingo Games Have Evolved Over the Years

The game of bingo is thought to date back nearly 500 years, making it one of the oldest games still played today.

But early bingo games looked decidedly different from the ones we’re familiar with today. Whether you play virtual bingo at home, online, or with friends down the local bingo hall, you might be surprised to discover just how this game has evolved over the years.

Early Games of Bingo

The earliest forms of bingo are said to have originated in the United States, and we’ll get to that in a moment, but the game actually began in Europe up to 500 years ago.

Simple bingo-style games were used to raise funds for the state in Spain and Italy during the 16th and 17th centuries. These games were influenced by state lotteries that had taken place during Roman times and may have gotten their start during the Han Dynasty in China.

The game spread to France and took on a form that more closely resembled modern Bingo, and by the 18th century, it was being played in the United Kingdom.

The big change came after it was exported to the United States and became popular at fairs and carnivals. Players would mark their cards with beans and the game became known as “Beano”.

The Bingo Boom

After watching some of the aforementioned fairground games, toymaker and all-round entrepreneur Edwin S. Lowe decided to manufacture and market a commercial version of the game. It’s said that he tested it on a group of his friends and after one of them misunderstood the rules and shouted “Bingo” instead of “Beano”, the name stuck.

In actual fact, the name seems to have been around for many years before that anecdote took place. In any case, the game took off and became popular all over the world. It experienced a massive boom during the First and Second World Wars and once the dust had settled on these catastrophic global wars, Bingo was a popular pastime on both sides of the Atlantic.

Modern Bingo

Bingo experienced somewhat of a lull a couple of decades ago. Bingo halls saw fewer numbers and the game wasn’t attracting enough support to stay alive.

Online bingo was the spark that triggered the bingo revolution. Today, bingo is more popular than ever, played by millions of people all over the world on a daily basis. In many ways, it has returned to its roots as a game that can be enjoyed by all ages, and not one that is reserved for older generations.

In the United States, where bingo is at its most popular, it is said to be played by over 60 million people, around 40% of which are male. In the United Kingdom, online bingo players have jumped from around 50,000 in 2008 to over 3 million today. Bingo has a massive following in Romania, Sweden, Germany, and Italy, and the age of online gambling has also helped it to spread in Japan.

Bingo is a global game with an expansive history and it just gets better with age.