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THE HISTORY OF THE GAME OF BINGO

Bingo has been traced back to Italy in the 1530’s, where they played a lottery game called Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia. The game made it’s way to France and later Germany, where they used it as an educational tool to teach kid’s spelling and math.

In 1929 an American carnival pitchman was traveling through Germany and happened upon the game. He immediately saw its potential, made a few changes to allow rows horizontally, vertically and diagonally, renamed it Beano and brought it to the U.S. Beans were used to mark the cards and the bingo balls of today were then flat, numbered discs. Beano was played mostly at carnivals and in 1929 near Atlanta, Georgia, a hot game of Beano was in progress when toy salesman Edwin Lowe wandered up.

Beano was wildly popular and Lowe couldn’t get near to game to play it for himself. The crowd was charged with excitement and Lowe saw the money potential in Beano and carried it back to New York with him, where he became afficionado for the Beano game.

Winners hollered out BEANO! when they successfully marked their card. Legend has it that Edwin heard someone accidentally holler out BINGO and the name as we know it was borne. By the 1940’s the game of Bingo was played all over the country and Lowe had many competitors. He was paid $1 per year by his competitors to use the name Bingo.

A Catholic priest from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania was the first to use the Bingo game as a means to raise funds for the church. At the time there were only 24 unique Bingo cards and Bingo players won all too often. Edwin Lowe then collaberated with mathematician Carl Leffler of Columbia University to create a larger number of unique Bingo cards. This was exactly what the game needed and its popularity skyrocketed, being adopted by churches all over the U.S. as a fun way to raise money. By 1934, Bingo games were being played every week at thousands of churches.

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