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Bingo History

bingo is a lottery in the sense that it is a game of chance where the object of the game is to match the numbers on your card to the numbers that are picked arbitrarily. Thus, i history begins with the Italian National Lottery of the 16th Century. By the 1770's, the intellectual elite of France, as well as other Europeans, were playing Bingo. Later, the game reached Germany where it was used as a didactic children's game.

In fact, the United States' first exposure to Bingo was through a carnival pitchman who happened to pass through Germany. He saw the potential of the gambling game as a carnival attraction. Hence, he took the game under his wing and called it Beano.

According to Bingo history, in 1929, Edwin Lowe, a New York toy salesman, came across the game at a Georgia carnival, where the participants marked their card numbers with beans. At the time, the game was called Beano. Lowe noticed the great excitement over the game and decided it had great business potential. The name of the game as we know it only came along in an important moment in Bingo history when an excited player called out “Bingo” rather than “Beano” and Lowe took it upon himself to change the name to “Bingo”.

When Lowe got back to New York, he presented the game with several minor adjustments. There were 2 versions of Lowe's Bingo - a $1 set of 12 cards and a $2 set of 24 cards. Eventually, Bingo was established as such a sensation that many competitors tried to simulate its success. Nonetheless, all Lowe asked in return for the Bingo name was $1 per year.

Furthermore, the connection between Bingo and churches formed a turning point in Bingo history, when a Pennsylvanian priest sought to raise money for his church. However, the limited number of cards (24) produced too many winners of each game. When the priest discussed this with Lowe, Lowe decided to produce more combinations for the Bingo cards. For assistance, he turned to Carl Leffler, Mathematics Professor at Columbia University.

As Leffler proceeded with this task, he found it increasingly demanding to create additional combinations. Thus, by the time he completed 6,000 Bingo cards, the professor had lost his sanity.

Nonetheless, Leffler managed to modify Bingo and change Bingo history by creating 6,000 distinctive cards, which caused the game to gain acceptance and demand. So much so that by 1934, each week approximately 10,000 games of Bingo took place worldwide. As it turned out, the great variety of cards was precisely what brought Bingo its soaring popularity and turned the game into an excellent fund-raising resource.

High-rolling Bingo actually only began in American Indian reservations in the 1970's. Since tribes are considered governments, they have the option of providing games that surpass the prizes of other bingo establishments. Soon afterwards, high-rolling bingo began serving as a financial device for poverty-stricken tribes around the country, raising funds and securing jobs for many people. Now, tribal bingo establishments offer payoffs of as much as $100,000 and up.

In addition, Bingo is played a bit differently depending on its place in the world. Currently, the European variant of the game uses 90 numbers, while the American variant uses 75 numbers. In Ireland, Bingo is played for the benefit of charities. In GBR Bingo is carefully controlled. Bingo is also the sole gambling game permitted in the British army where it is called Housie.

Throughout Bingo history, the game has taken various forms. Presently, some players mark the called Bingo numbers with markers on cardboard cards, some use ink daubers on paper sheets, some use video Bingo machines which present the called numbers themselves, and of course the latest innovation of Bingo is the Internet.

Article Submitted by:
Josh Gabbins, Gambling Editor.

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