The earliest recorded history of a bingo type game started in the 1500s in Italy. It is believed to have started as a descendent of the Italian lottery-type game ‘Lo Guioco del Lotto D’Italia’. The game could be enjoyed by all classes from rich to poor, and it was a fantastic social game that offered a fun form of gambling that did not cost the earth. The game adapted and grew as it travelled across the world. A later French version was known as Le Lotto, and then a newer Tombola version came about in Germany in the early 19th century. This one was also used for educational purposes to teach children times tables, spelling and even history.
The game that we now know and love derived around the 1920s, when a man called Edwin Lowe from Atlanta came across the game at carnivals and fairs in the USA. Players would yell ‘beano’ instead of bingo in those days, and he became totally mesmerised by the game and how its players would continue playing until the early hours of the morning.
He decided to take the game over to New York and this is where the name bingo began. A friend of Lowe’s was playing one day, and suddenly shouted ‘bingo’ by mistake. The players found this hilarious, and so this was how the game was known from then on.
Bingo is regulated by the government until 2005 under The Gaming Act 1968 and since 2005 under The Gambling Act 2005.
Bingo first appeared in the UK in the 1960s, and its popularity began almost instantly.
With the passing of the Gaming Act in 1960, it opened up new possibilities for business. From 1956 onwards many cinemas were turned int bingo clubs closing cinemas. Rank turned two large London cinemas, the Odeon Hackney Road and the Gaumont Peckham over to bingo in May 1961.
Before long, clubs appeared up and down the whole of Great Britain, and they became real hubs for social gaming.
People loved the fact that they could get out of the house and enjoy a game of bingo with friends. In the days of no Internet or Sky TV, this was much appreciated. Players could meet up with friends, have a drink and also win big throughout the night.
Companies then grew, as did the prizes on offer, which meant that bingo clubs became absolute hotspots.
Bingo continued to be played in seaside towns, piers and theme parks throughout Britain too, and it also started up in local social and working men’s clubs all over the UK. The bingo phenomenon took the country by storm, and its popularity grew and grew.
During the 1990s, faced with ageing (buildings, the bingo operators began to close down the ex-cinemas in favour of new, purpose built bingo halls, often just outside the town centre. This had the advantage of cheaper land giving more floor space, enabling an ever more mobile population to park by the hall, and also improving access for the disabled. The first purpose built hall was the Castle Club at Canton in Cardiff, which opened in December 1988.
Technology has come a long way since then, and the way that we play bingo has evolved with over 50% of bingo tickets are now played electronically rather than on paper. However, the principles and rules of our beloved bingo have stayed largely the same since its inception. Food and drink offerings along with the community element have ensured the popularity of the game.
The National Bingo Games was launched in 1986 by the National Bingo Game Association Limited (NBGA). It is a linked bingo game for all licensed bingo clubs the first game took part in July 1986 and is still popular today. Until 1994, the National Bingo Game was the UK’s largest computer controlled game until the National Lottery was launched.
There are currently 294 licensed bingo clubs in the UK 285
The history of Bingo - Online
The first ever online bingo site was called Bingo Zone, launched in the USA in 1996. The original site was extremely basic in style, however it paved the way for the online bingo world to grow and flourish.
By 2000 there were around 20 online bingo sites to choose from
The first site to launch in the UK in August 2012 was called Bingo Blitz and it was the first of its kind in the UK to offer players the chance to win cash prizes online
Since around 2012, most sites are now all compatible with tablets and mobile devices as well and most sites are now linked to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so the community feel of the bingo spirit continues across all platforms
By 2013 the online bingo market was worth £259 million it is now worth over £1 billion.
There are currently 252 digital bingo sites running in the UK.
Over three million people enjoy playing in the UK alone.
Nearly every online bingo site these days has a chatroom, social hub or forum, and all players can interact and chat away 24/7 replicating the community feel on land-based bingo.
As more and more players get involved, jackpots get higher, and the community gets larger.
The introduction of mobile apps has led to a whole new generation of people being interested in and playing bingo
25% of online players are male. Fact Check – Which Bingo Annual Survey
27% of online bingo customers deposit more than £50 per month (check)
Bingo History Timeline
Here is the history of bingo in a nutshell:
1500s ‘Lo Guioco del Lotto D’Italia’ was invented by the Italians.
1600s This lottery type game then evolved in France.
1800s Germany adapted the game for educational purposes.
1929 ‘Beano’ was discovered at fairs and carnivals in America.
1930s Edwin Lowe took ‘Beano’ to New York where a player yelled ‘Bingo’ by mistake, and thus the game we know today was officially born
1960s Bingo arrived in the UK and clubs popped up throughout the country.
1996 The first ever online Bingo sites were born – ‘Bingo Zone’ and ‘Bingo Blitz’
2004 Around 20 online Bingo sites were up and running, Bingo halls slowly began to close
2018 There are 350 Bingo sites in the UK alone, and the game is now more popular than ever