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The History and Origins of Bingo – From Italy to Modern Halls

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Bingo first arrived in America in 1929 when an entrepreneur named Edwin Lowe visited an Atlanta carnival and noticed people shouting Beano when completing winning patterns.

Lowe quickly gained widespread acclaim at traveling carnivals and fairs throughout North America with his game. Partnering with a Columbia University math professor, Lowe asked them to design cards which increased chances of victory.


Bingo dates back to 16th-century Italy with Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia lottery game. By 1700s Europe it had spread widely as an educational tool teaching kids spelling, animal names and historical dates. By 1800s various versions had emerged to teach these things as educational tools.

Edwin S. Lowe of New York Toy Sales observed a variation of Beano at a traveling carnival in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929. Players covered numbers on their cards with beans to create winning patterns yelling “beano!” when completed – something Lowe later adapted and called bingo; making it popular at carnivals, fairs and taverns across America.


Bingo’s origins date back to 1530 when it first made an appearance as a lottery in Italy. Later it spread throughout Europe as Lotto before finally reaching Britain during the eighteenth century.

American carnivals first made Beano famous. Hugh J Ward popularized it in western Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh before writing up its rules book in 1933. Edwin Lowe, an NYC toy salesman who witnessed this crowd’s level of engagement was struck by what he witnessed there and witnessed them playing as part of an unwitting experiment in participatory democracy.

Lowe took his game back to New York where he conducted tests with friends. When one of them won, she declared herself as having won and instead of shouting “Beano,” shouted out “Bingo”, thus giving the name its current status.


Recent years have seen bingo struggle to compete with the popularity of casino gaming, lotteries and internet gambling. Many bingo halls have closed or been combined into other establishments due to this challenge; however, new variations of bingo are helping resurrect its classic appeal.

Edwin S. Lowe of Brooklyn, New York created modern bingo in 1929 as an extension of an already popular carnival game known as Beano that involved covering numbers with dried beans and shouting out “Beano!” when someone won.

Players eventually realized that beans weren’t practical and switched to using blotters, or daubers – ink bottles with felt tips – as markers. Some players became attached to these blotters; many brought one along for every game and used it to mark numbers on their cards.


Bingo dates back to 1530 Italy and has seen significant evolution ever since then, moving through France, England, America and ultimately digital technology with its advent.

As pixels came alive with new life, Bingo prepared for its digital makeover. Due to its adaptability and variety of online options, its popularity had only ever grown further.

Players quickly tired of using beans to mark their numbers, so bingo blotters, also known as daubers, were created. These ink bottles with wide felt tips allow players to stain over each number on the card – some players even bring along special blotters as an act of sentimentality!


Bingo has endured for centuries and for good reason: its appeal lies in both its enjoyable nature and adaptability – this timeless classic has been utilized for charity fundraising events, wartime training exercises and even online play!

Beginning in Italy with Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia lottery game in 1530, its popularity quickly spread throughout France where it came to be known as “Le Lotto.” Later, educational lottery games featuring letters and numbers were introduced in Germany during the 19th century.

Edwin S. Lowe discovered bingo while visiting a carnival in Jacksonville, Georgia in 1929 and called it Beano due to players covering their cards with beans upon winning a round. Unfortunately for Lowe, one of his friends misheard and shouted out “bingo!” which became its name – this term would remain until veterans’ groups and charities took steps against anti-gambling laws to bring bingo into the mainstream during the 1960s.

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