Events and Activities: The Forgotten Game of Bingo

If your first experience of Bingo left you with a similar first impression of the game as it did my parents – it’s quite easy to see why it became a blanked-out memory for a generation.

Apparently, in the 1960’s and 70’s, amidst the back drop of bobbing waves of permed-hair, intermittent wafts of dodgy perfume and fog-like cigarette smoke, Bingo-halls used to be  places where mothers and grandmas forgot they had kids or grandkids, so eager where they to play the craze that had hooked a nation.

Thankfully, for many different generations of people, the love of bingo is on the increase again and people of all ages now enjoy playing the game online, either on their own or by getting friends round and making it a great night-in.

Before I even realised one can play the online version, I confess I first got the bug whilst on holiday in Ibiza playing pound Bingo as part of the evening’s family-entertainment. It took me a week to get a winning card but, once I’d got it, I couldn’t wait to play again. I was so hooked that when I got home I decided to look at some of the history of the game.

The general consensus is that the game originated in Italy in the early 16th century and went by the name “Lo Giuco del Lotto D’Italia”. The French then took it up under the guise of “Le Lotto” in the late 18th century, before the the Germans decided to use it as an educational tool in the 19th century.

“Beano” was the name the game had when it landed in North America in 1929, but this changed when Edwin S. Lowe overheard someone mistakenly shout ‘Bingo’. Lowe decided to increase the amount of possible combinations a Beano card had to 6000, which he did by enlisting the services of a Columbia University Maths Professor called Carl Leffler, revamping a game that from then on has been known as – Bingo.

Eric Morley, better known for his role in organising and developing the “Miss World Competition”, introduced Bingo to Britain in the 1960’s when it became popular in members clubs around the country. Nowadays, the game is played in a variety of places up and down the country every week, whether it’s in your local pub or club using a roll of paper bingo-cards and marker pens, or the stand-up version at a variety of fund-raising events such as Sportsman’s dinners.

Aside from that, there are also seaside amusement arcades where the clickety-clack of little plastic shutters can still be heard as holiday-makers mark off their numbers in the hope of winning a teddy bear or something similar. However, the biggest innovation today is online Bingo, and loads of people are joining in the rapidly growing phenomenon that offers so much more than just playing one of Britain’s all-time favourite games.

The backdrop of bobbing waves of permed-hair, intermittent wafts of dodgy perfume and fog-like cigarette smoke may have been replaced by a growing community of people aged 18 and upwards, and chat-rooms where you can talk to like-minded people, but you can still play with friends and family, and you can still shout out quack-quack at number 22 (two little ducks) or whistle at 59 (5 & 9, the Brighton Line), just now you can do it all from the comfort of wherever you feel like.

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Ellen is a blogger, a web content writer, a researcher, a stalker, an entrepreneur wanna-be, a resourceful moneymaker, a big fan of Supernatural TV shows, a household queen, and a mom of four.

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