History of bingo – where did our game begin?

By Ben Barker - November 19 2015

This our game: the history of bingo. Do you know where it all began? Bingo is one of the nation’s favourite pastimes and has been embraced for generations, but where did it all begin? Online bingo is definitely a full house, with over 100 million playing online all around the world. The game stays true to its roots, still remaining a hobby and social pastime for many players today. Bingo is gambling, but it certainly isn’t all about the money. The name of our game might call back memories of your nan heading off to play Bingo down in the hall on a Saturday night, but the internet generation has revolutionised how we play today, with rapid growth in bingo sites only set to continue as popularity grows. So, have you ever wondered how it all kicked off? Here’s the run-down on how our game: the history of bingo, began. 


old wooden lotto barrels and game cards

Legend has it…

Many believe that bingo holds its roots in Italy, first beginning all the way back in the 1500s, born out of the nation’s traditional lottery “Il Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia”. From there on out it was a quick border jump over to France, where the game’s name evolved to something a little more like what we know it by today, “Le Lotto”. Whilst today it’s the game rooted in the hearts good working people, in those times it was traditionally played by French aristocracy.


It’s not just fun and games

Germany kicked off the trend of educational bingo, providing a very useful purpose which has since been used to teach times tables, spelling and history. A quick search of ‘educational bingo’ brings up a ton of results today, with everything from learning bingo apps for your phone to bingo-themed resources to help kids clue-up.



By the 1920s the game had made it to North America, where the story goes that ‘Beano’ was played in carnivals. American toymaker Edwin Lowe is said to have ventured into one of these carnivals, to wander upon a caller pulling numbered wooden disks from a cigar box and calling the numbers out much like bingo callers do today. Everyone would rush to see if they had the number the caller had just announced, placing a bean down on their card if they had it and then “beano”! The next evolution in the game’s name came around when one player became so excited that instead of “beano” he yelled “bingo”, which stuck with Lowe, so the story goes.

By the 1940s Bingo had spread like wildfire across the country and eventually came full circle all the way back to Europe where it had first began. The game reached the UK with a very warm welcome in the 1960’s.



These days, bingo sites are reaching more and more people as the game truly evolved to become one for everyone. Younger players are playing more and more regularly, with the same pulls that appealed to their grandparent’s now having evolved to appeal to them. The community aspect is something that stands stronger than ever, with welcoming and friendly people populating the chat room element of many online bingo games today. Socialising around bingo is no longer just for afters, with chat previously frowned upon in bingo halls. Friendly chat is now for during and after the game. All things considered, it isn’t hard to see why those before us loved the game and why we all continue to play bingo today.

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