Bingo today has changed a lot, it was originally a form of lottery and is a direct descendant of Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia. Italy was united in 1530, and the Italian National Lottery Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia was organized, and as a result been held, almost without pause, at weekly intervals to this date. Today the Italian State lottery is indispensable to the government’s budget, with a yearly contribution in excess of 75 million dollars.
Then in 1778, it was reported in the French press that Le Lotto had captured the fancy of the intelligentsia. In the classic version of Lotto, which developed during this period, the playing card used in the game was divided into three horizontal and nine vertical rows. Each horizontal row had five numbered and four blank squares in a random arrangement. The vertical rows contained numbers from 1 to 10 in the first row, 11 to 20 in the second row, et cetera, up to 90. No two Lotto cards were alike. Chips numbered from 1 to 90 completed the playing equipment. Players were dealt a single Lotto card, then the caller would draw a small wooden, numbered token from a cloth bag and read the number aloud. The players would cover the number if it appeared on their card. The first player to cover a horizontal row was the winner.
In the early 1800s, Lotto games became popular for educational purposes. A German Lotto game of the 1850s was designed to teach children their multiplication tables. There were other educational Lotto games such as ‘Spelling Lotto,’ ‘Animal Lotto,’ and ‘Historical Lotto.” Even in today’s highly competitive toy and game market, Lotto is holding its own.
Then it finally hit America in December of 1929, a very tired New York toy salesman, Edwin S. Lowe, decided to drive on to Jacksonville, Georgia so that he might have an early start for his next day’s appointments. The year before, with two employees and $1,000 capital, Lowe had set up his own toy company. Soon after, the market crashed and the outlook for his budding firm looked bleak indeed.
A couple of miles away from Jacksonville, Lowe visited a carnival booth which was packed with people. Lowe stood on tiptoes to see what was getting played. The action centered on a horseshoe-shaped table covered with numbered cards and beans. The game being played was a variation of Lotto called Beano. The caller pulled small numbered wooden disks from an old cigar box and, at the same time, called the number aloud. The players responded by eagerly checking their card to see if they had the number called; if so, they would place a bean on the number. This sequence continued until someone filled a line of numbers on their card – either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. This feat was marked by the shout of “Beano!” The winner received a small Kewpie doll.
After locking up, the pitchman told Lowe that he had run across a game called Lotto while traveling with a carnival in Germany the previous year. His immediate thought was that it would make a good tent or carnival game. He made a few changes in its play and a change of the name to Beano. The game proved to be such a surefire crowd-pleaser and money maker that on his return to the United States, he continued to work the game on the Carnival circuit.
On returning to his home in New York, Lowe bought went about getting some beans and was soon able to get his friends to play Beano with the same tension and excitement as he had seen at the carnival. During one session Lowe noticed that one of his players was close to winning. She got more excited as each bean was added to her card. Finally, there was one number left – then, instead of shouting “Beano,” shouted BINGO!” Bingo was born.