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The long history of the casino industry and gambling has seen the rise and fall of many table games and slots. Out of all the casino games to have survived into the modern age, none have a history as colorful, or gameplay quite as addicting, like bingo. Bingo has become a classic game to many cultures worldwide, with over 500 years of game changes, name changes, travel, and bans.
Bingo is easy to learn, simple to manage, and has made its home in many homes all over the archipelago. Learn all the exciting twists and turns of bingo history, including world records, biggest winners, and more below.
What we know as “Bingo“ today started as an annual Saturday lottery in 16th century Italy. It was initially named “Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia” or “The Clearance of The Lot of Italy” and remained an Italian gambling tradition from 1530 until 1770. Here, bingo made its first cultural vacation into the hands of the French.
It was renamed “Le Lotto” and was viewed as an exciting social excursion, used mostly for charity purposes. Coincidentally, around the early 19th century, the Germans invented their bingo-style but used it for educational purposes. Though their educational bingo is still played, it wasn’t as popular as “Le Lotto”.
During World War 1 & 2, bingo made its way to the barracks of Great Britain. Now named “Housey-Housey”, it took the trenches by storm and was often played alongside their French allies in a 9x3 format. The popularity of “Housey-Housey” remained long after the war but was banned post-war like many other gambling acts.
Since gambling for charity was still allowed, the Catholic church continued “Housey-Housey” tournaments, but under a new name. They sought to separate the game from its gambling routes and now called it “Tombola”, though the name never caught on.
The Betting and Gaming Act 1960 reversed all UK bingo bans and allowed the game to grow legally into the 90-ball game we play today. However, the 75-American variety and the name ‘Bingo’ itself had different origins.
“Bingo” first came to America in the early 1920s, revised and rebranded from the UK variant “Housey-Housey”. Now played at county fairs in a 75 ball format with beans to cover the numbers, it was called “Beano”.
The popular myth behind bingo’s origin happened in 1929 when Edwin S. Lowe visited a Georgia state fair. There was a “Beano” game being played, and as a man shouted his winnings, Lowe misheard him thinking he called bingo.
Thinking this was an excellent name for a game, Lowe took the idea to New York. With the help of a math professor, Lowe streamlined the game with over 6,000 non-repeating cards. The game was rebranded as “Bingo” and became the game we know today.
Now under one name, the game still has several variants due to the extensive history of bingo. The main variants are 30, 75, 80, and 90 ball games. 90 ball bingo is currently the most popular for Filipino players.
The history of bingo in the Philippines begins with the Christian Church. Though the date is unknown, it’s suspected the game was first brought over by Christian missionaries, used as a tool to connect with local citizens. It wasn’t long before it became a trend, soon becoming one of the most popular gambling games in the area.
It was so popular that it was streamed weekly on a dedicated channel called Pinoy Bingo Night.
Bingo was one of the first gambling games to make it into the online revolution. Though reports vary over the first official online bingo site, it’s thought to have started in 1996 on Cyberbingo.com. The virtual poker and casino boom of 2003 brought online bingo into popularity, allowing tens of thousands of online games to be played every day worldwide.
Indoor smoking bans helped influence online bingo’s popularity, as users could still enjoy a cigar and bingo roll from the comfort of their homes. In 2013, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation brought their love of online bingo to the world with the first nationwide e-linked bingo game.
Bingo prizes can be anywhere from cash to physical objects like cars or TVs. The most lucrative bingo winners won their fortunes overnight in a lucky draw. The current records of the three largest wins in bingo history converted into pesos are:
Bingo has inspired many creative charity events in its name. Here are some of the most exciting records broken to date.