Bingo is a sweepstakes game loved the world over. Find out how it evolved.

online bingo games evolution of bingo

Bingo has long been considered a game played solely by the older generation. But it’s a fun, entertaining, and highly competitive game enjoyed by all ages. These days you can play online bingo, and host themed bingo nights (think Christmas parties where you play bingo for gifts) that are bound to keep everyone entertained for hours. But do you know the history of this sweepstakes game? And it evolved? Well, you’re in luck because we’ve got the info you need.

Where it all began

The question is, who invented this lotto-esque game and how long has it been around? This game of chance has had several names and variations, but one of the earliest forms was recorded in 1778, when it was first seen as a children’s game. The earliest American form of bingo was called keno and dates to the early 19th century. Interestingly, between 1880 and 1900, bingo was the only gambling game British Armed Services were allowed to play. But over the years, the game slowly rose in popularity, and by the Great Depression in the US in 1930, a variant called screeno was played in movie theaters. Here, one night of the week, eager players were able to enjoy a designated bank night. This meant that players received free bingo cards with their admission tickets, like a two for the price of one type of setup. Players could win large cash prizes and merchandise as well. Furthermore, during the 60s in England, the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 allowed commercial lotto clubs to form – at the time, this was an interesting debate. This, in turn, increased the popularity of the game, which overtook that of its US counterparts.

evolution of bingo

The humble bingo cards

In addition to the game being popularized during the Great Depression, it also went through some changes, one of which took place in 1920. When the game initially landed on American soil, it was called beano, and it was played in carnivals across Atlanta. A New York salesperson at the time, Edwin S. Lowe (known for being a toymaker and game entrepreneur), renamed the game to bingo. Interestingly, Edwin overheard someone accidentally yell bingo instead of beano, and thus the name bingo was born.

Edwin had a knack for games and hired a mathematics professor, Carl Leffler, from Columbia University to help him increase the number of combinations in bingo cards. This would prove fruitful as, by 1930, Edwin had a total of 6000 combinations. The idea behind the combinations was to avoid repetitive groups that would result in conflicts when more than one person called bingo at the same time.

evolution of bingo, how bingo has evolved

Bingo in church

Today parishioners still enjoy a game of bingo at their games evenings, but there is some history to it. A Catholic priest approached Lowe about using bingo to raise much-needed funds for his church, which is how bingo in the church was born. By 1934, over 10 000 bingo games were played every week. And while bingo at the time was essentially illegal, it was considered a great practice to allow churches and other non-profit organizations the opportunity to use the game to raise funds.

evolution of bingo

Retirement and nursing homes

This game of sweepstakes is used in retirement and nursing homes as a form of socialization and recreational therapy. Because this game is relatively easy to play and it requires minimal staff, it has proved to be one of the better games to keep the older generation in high spirits. What’s also great is that bingo is often used to facilitate socializing during visiting days, which further adds to the overall care of those in retirement and nursing homes.

Bingo today

Today you can play bingo on any device, whether a PC, laptop, cell phone, or tablet. And this is what makes it great. The humble game that started many hundreds of years ago has been kept alive through technology. And more, we are seeing younger people reinvent the game by coming up with different board combinations, as well as different types of bingo styles. In other words, today, you will find variations such as Facebook Bingo, Electronic Bingo, and even Music Bingo. People are also coming up with their versions by theming the game. You will see Halloween-themed bingo and a popular one mentioned before, Christmas Bingo. There’s also a rumor that Bingo can help you to improve your career! What is clear is that the game will continue to be passed down to generations to come. 


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