Who Invented Bingo?

The invention of Bingo dates back to 1929; although a game similar to it dates back centuries before, which is where bingo originated. This article seeks to investigate the historical facts of Bingo. Bingo is similar to an Italian lottery that was played in the 1530s and was called “Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia”. The game is based more on chance rather than skill. The popularity of the game grew over the years and spread to the French by the late 1770s. In France, the game was called “Le Lotto” and was played among wealthy Frenchmen. A version of the game was played in Germany to help students to learn spelling, math and history in the 1800s.

A carnival pitchman, who was on tour in Germany, introduced it to America. It was in 1929 and it was known as “Beano”. He explored the potential for the game as he made some changes to the game he learnt. A New York toy salesman named Edwin S. Lowe visited a carnival in Atlanta, Georgia where he first saw the game being played. The crowd was very curious and quite excited about the game. The game was being played in a tent and it engaged the crowd so much, that the person in charge of the tent had much difficulty ending the game. This was evident when he made attempts to bring the game to close as persons would complain of not having had a chance at the game. It was after much effort that he was successful.

Lowe, himself, was not able to play based on the thick crowd. However, upon returning to his hometown in New York, Mr. Lowe introduced the game to friends. The same kind of excitement was seen in his friends’ interest and enthusiasm. It was during one of the games that someone, with much anticipation for winning, mistakenly shouted “Bingo” instead of “Beano” and the name “Bingo” was adopted. The game differs in versions in various countries around the world. It is called Bingo in the United Kingdom but there is a similar game called “Housie” played in Australia, New Zealand and India. Edwin Lowe hired and worked along with a mathematician named Carl Leffler to increase the number of combinations in bingo cards. Leffler, a bingo card creator, invented at least 6,000 different bingo cards.

A Pennsylvanian Catholic priest approached Lowe about using bingo as a way of raising funds for the church. This really broadened the horizon for the game which became more popular. An estimated 10,000 games were being played weekly by the year 1934.

Bingo has been one of the most popular games worldwide since it has been given the status of a legal game. The prizes now range from toys to cars to millions of dollars in cash. There are some places where profit made from the game has to be donated for charitable purposes in order to maintain legality of the game. Bingo has come a long way since its inception and is now being played in schools as a means of educational and recreational activities