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The Intriguing History of Bingo

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Despite bingo peaking in popularity in the 1960s when there were an estimated 15 million+ players in the US alone, this game has a much longer history stretching back to the 1500s in Italy. Bingo is a direct descendent of the Italian lottery, Il Gioco del Lotto d'Italia, which translates as "The game of lotto of Italy" and started running in 1530. In this early form of bingo, Italian players would place bets on certain numbers being drawn. The Italians were ahead of the curve when it came to games of chance, as during the 15th century, they also developed the prototype of the casino game baccarat.

As with everything these days bingo has moved online. The game still works the same where you receive a bingo card and need to daub matching numbers. However, if you were to play bingo at Paddy Power you'd get to enjoy unique themes and even additional prizes like jackpots. Online bingo still retains a social aspect you can chat with fellow players - and that's on the go or from the comfort of your own home.

Bingo moves to France

It wasn't long before the French caught wind of this enthralling game that the Italians were playing and started hosting their own games. The French called it Le Lotto.

Prior to the invention of the printing press, Le Lotto was played in France using hand-painted bingo cards. Players would place tokens over marked numbers so the cards could be reused. France was actually the very first country to play bingo using paper cards that were discardable, and players would mark numbers on the paper using ink.

The Brits fall in love with Bingo

You couldn't expect the Italians and French to keep this game hidden forever. Bingo eventually made its way to England in the 1800s. Brits would use bingo as a way to raise money for the local community, including the church and public works. The modern form of bingo and bingo halls really took hold in the 1960s, and operators started opening up bingo halls across the country.

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The Americans want in on the action

Bingo started popping up in carnivals in the US during the late 1920s. Edwin Lowe is credited for popularising the game when he published a rulebook in the early 1930s. Americans also get credit for coming up with the name bingo. Lowe's game was originally called beano, as players would use dried beans to make numbers. But the story goes that one player was so excited that she had won that instead of yelling out “beano”, she screamed “bingo,” and the name has stuck ever since! No one knows the veracity of that story, but by the 1940s, the game was exclusively called bingo.

So this seemingly simple game has a fascinatingly long history while still being highly relevant in today's largely digital society! What changes do you think we'll see in the bingo landscape next?

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