Everyone loves bingo, but how many people really know where the game began? The history of bingo can be traced all the way back to the 1500’s, making it a game that people have enjoyed for centuries. In the U.S., however, bingo was originally called “beano” as was a county fair game. During the game, the dealer would select numbered disks from a cigar box, and players would then mark heir cards with beans. They would yell “beano” if they won.
The early history of the game can be traced all the way back to 1530, to lottery played in Italy called “Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia,” which is still played every Saturday in Italy. The game was then introduced to France in the late 1770s, where it was renamed “Le Lotto,” and was a game that was only played among the wealthy Frenchmen of the country. A version of the game was also played by Germans in the 1800s, but they used it as a child’s game to help small children learn math, history, and spelling.
The game did not reach America until 1929, when it became known as “beano.” It was renamed to “bingo” by toy salesman Edwin S. Lowe when he heard someone yell “bingo” instead of “beano.” Lowe hired a Columbia University math professor to help him increase the number of combinations on the bingo cards, leading to 6,000 new combinations.
Lowe was then approached by a priest in Pennsylvania who asked him to help use bingo as a way to raise funds for the church. Bingo gained popularity by being played in churches. By 1934, it is estimated that there were 10,000 bingo games played each week. Today, more than $90 million are spent on bingo each week in North America alone.
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