History of Bingo

Bingo is an ancient game, though it only came to the United States less than a century ago. According to historical accounts, it was around the time of the Great Depression that someone from Europe introduced the game in America. It was at a carnival and a booth was set up to play the game. However, it wasn’t called Bingo, but was then known as “Beano” because players used beans to cover their squares as the numbers were called.

Apparently, the game was an instantly huge success. People flocked to the Beano tent to play this game. One enterprising young man recognized the game for the success it was bound to be and started immediately looking for a way to market the game. It was only about a year later that he found a partner and did just that.

The difference between the name “Beano” and “Bingo” was apparently a slip of the tongue. Even then, the players seemed to have been caught up in the thrill of winning. Someone reportedly jumped up and in his haste to get the word “Beano” out, added a “g” sound. As is the case with many phrases coined by accident, the word has since come to be used in several situations. When someone hits the mark or wins a jackpot, it’s said they “Bingo-d.”

Centuries before Bingo came to America, it was played by the French, Italians and Europeans. The Italians are generally credited with having created the game. The name included the word “lotto” in Italian, and that phrase was retained when the game was adopted by the French. It seems that the early versions of Bingo were used both for entertainment and as teaching tools.

When you look at the internet bingo games played today, it’s difficult to imagine that this game had its roots in Italy, more than two centuries ago.