Bingo Cards, Bingo Games and Bingo History Bingo Cards, Bingo Games and Bingo History: Explained
Home of
UK / Australia Versions of Bingo Cards
US / Canadian Version of Bingo Cards
90 Number Bingo Game
75 Ball Bingo Game
Using Bingo Cards for Teaching
The History of the Bingo Game

Bingo Cards, Games and History at

Read about bingo history and the interesting story of its origins. Understand the connection between bingo games and lottery games.

Understand the background and variations of bingo cards and bingo tickets used in the UK, Australia, United States and Canada.

Understand the basics of the bingo game. Learn the differences between the two major bingo game variations.



Bingo History: The Legendary Origins of the Bingo Card

The history of bingo is tied inextricably to the history of the lottery. In about 1530 A.D., Italy introduced a national lottery known as "Lo Giuoco del Lotto D'Italia." A literal translation might be “The Clearance of The Lot of Italy.” In 1567 Queen Elizabeth I established the first English state lottery, little knowing it would become part of British bingo history!. Prizes included cash, plate, and tapestry, with 100,000 tickets offered for sale. King James I of England created a lottery in London in 1612, the proceeds of which were used to aid the first British colony in America at Jamestown, Virginia. Perhaps prophetically, Anglican churches held two of three winning tickets for the first draw. Bingo history is made early!

Bingo History and The Lottery

The Italian Lottery Game is played with 90 numbers, like some bingo games, and sometimes features names of Italian cities at the top of cards instead of the five letters in BEANO or BINGO. A popular parlor game called Lotto was developed based on the Italian National Lottery. The game was introduced to France in the 1770's where it was called "Le Lotto” and was played by the wealthy for entertainment. This game strikes a strong resemblance with today's version of the bingo game. Three horizontal and nine vertical rows formed the basis of the "bingo" card and players would cover their numbers as they were drawn until an entire horizontal row was covered - hence the winner.

Educational Bingo Card History Begins

The Germans also played an historic version of the bingo game in the 1800s. They used it as a child's game to help students learn math, spelling and history, a very popular use of the bingo game and bingo cards to this day. See Bingo Cards.

Bingo History Begins With Beano

In recent bingo history, a variation of the German lotto game was introduced at carnivals in America in the 1920’s, played with beans to cover numbers on a card. When a participant covered a row of numbers, they shouted “beano” and received a prize.

The Role of Edwin S. Lowe In Bingo History

Bingo history in America truly begins when New York toy salesman Edwin S. Lowe stumbled upon the beano game at a carnival in Georgia in 1929. He later demonstrated a home-made version to friends, where a woman at the event accidentally shouted out “bingo” instead of “beano” when she had completed a row. "I cannot describe the strange sense of elation which that girl's cry brought to me," Lowe said. "All I could think of was that I was going to come out with this game, and it was going to be called Bingo!"

The First Packaged Bingo Game Is Marketed

Bingo history continues as Mr. Lowe soon packaged the materials for a home-version of the game and took it to market. Containing only 24 bingo cards, it was soon discovered that with a large group of players, the bingo game produced too many winners. This problem was brought to him by a Catholic priest from Pennsylvania who wanted to use large bingo games to raise money for the church fund.

Not Enough Bingo Card Combinations

A pivotal event in bingo history occurred when Lowe hired Columbia University math professor Carl Leffler to help him increase the number of combinations in bingo cards. By 1930, Leffler had created 6,000 different bingo cards with non-repeating number combinations. There are 5.52+ E26 (more than 552 million billion billion) possible combinations that could exist - any one of which would be a legal bingo card.

The History of Bingo Continues

With the bingo game becoming popular as a fundraising activity for churches, bingo became increasingly popular throughout America during this period of bingo history. By 1934, an estimated 10,000 bingo games were played weekly, and the popularity has not waned to this day. The advent of the Internet and playing games on the home computer has only added to the popularity of the bingo game.

Bingo History is Tied to the Italian National Lottery
16th Century Florence

Bingo History In America
Old Virginia Lottery Ticket

Beano is the Precursor of the Bingo Game
Before Bingo

An Historic Bingo Game Box Cover
Vintage Bingo Game Box