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History of Bingo

(Also called: Housie in Australia and NZ, Keno in US)

There are currently over 3 million people of all age groups, both male and female, who enjoy bingo every week. While more and more people are trying online bingo many players still brave the elements travelling to their local bingo hall. Bingo is seen as very social and a safe type of gambling with small stakes and prolonged games lasting 30 minutes. The catchy caller numbers were introduced to liven up affairs with calls such as: 'legs' 11, 'two fat ladies' 88 and 'on its own' number 1 etc.

The game itself is very simple: each player buys a bingo 'card' (or more than one) with numbers arranged over the card. The bingo 'caller' calls numbers until there is a winner. Depending on what type of bingo you are playing there may be more than one winner. When a winner has all the required numbers for a line or pattern they call out 'Bingo!'

Bingo has been going in one form or another since the early 16th century when the Italian Lottery (called Lotto) was a variant on the modern game. Bingo was developed and kept alive by medieval showmen when it was called 'Beno' (The game was called 'Beno' or 'beano' due to the use of beans as counters). The modern game of bingo was brought into the modern age in its present form by travelling carnivals during the early 1900's.

The game was commercialised by American businessman and toy manufacturer Ed Lowe in the Depression era, who took a whole 'Beno' stall back from the local fair. He sat down and developed an easy to use version of the game with 6,000 card/number variations all of which could only have one winner. The game was initially played in movie theatres with tickets being given out as part of admission to play with (for then) large cash prizes. Bingo was also played in churches across the USA to raise funds for charities. Lowes' wife is credited as the first person to shout out 'Bingo!' after her first win.

Modern Bingo

Legislation was passed in 1968 to allow bingo be played on licensed premises across the UK and bingo 'halls' sprung up across country. Bingo was especially popular with older ladies including many pensioners. In fact bingo is the only gambling activity with more female participants than male, with a demographic of 70% of females.

Halls were introduced to every town across the UK and made a cheap, fun night out for players with real cash prizes on offer. Who could resist 'two fat ladies', 'key of the door' or even 'legs 11'?

Online Bingo

While bingo was still wildly popular in the late 1990's, its stuffy image was given a total overhaul with the digital age and the introduction of bingo websites in the early part of the 21st century. The first online bingo games date from the late 1990s, while the first major websites solely dedicated to online bingo appeared in the early 21st century. There were many more started up in 2003 with the relaxation of gambling laws covering bets placed online.

Gone was the hassle of filling in a bingo card and listening for numbers, the game was automated while retaining the fun aspects of the game such as chat, free prize draws and the catchy bingo terminology. This is especially useful when you are playing a number of cards simultaneously-you don't need to be a mathematical octopus as the system will keep your cards up to date as the game progresses. Online games have tiny stakes of just a few pence and much higher jackpots of as much as 1 million due to the larger numbers of people playing.

Types of Bingo

90 Ball

90 numbers on the card
Popular in the UK and Ireland
Gives 3 chances to win-one for a single line, another for two lines and yet another for a full card
Faster paced game
Here will be displayed number under which you can win the jackpot

75 Ball

75 numbers on the card
Called 'Keno' in the US
There is one prize
Match the pattern on the card
There will be displayed number under which you can win the jackpot

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