Bingo has been one of the more widely played games since it came to the United States.
The game has seemingly humble beginnings in Renaissance Italy when a lottery similar to the game of Bingo was popularly played. Games similar to this subsequently appeared in French and then in German culture. Players matched a set of numbers on a card to those drawn from a container.
Bingo in America
The first instances of Bingo were as a game called “Beano.” Beano was apparently the game’s real name given to it because players used beans to mark their beano cards when the matching numbers and letters were called.
During the early twentieth century, Beano was a widely practiced game at carnivals and county fairs. A carnival caller would pick numbers and letters from a cardboard box while participants in the audience used beans to mark their beano cards to the corresponding calls. Beano cards had a set of printed numbers and letters on them.
Popular legend has it that the name Bingo was a misinterpretation of what one winner shouted out at a fair. “Beano!” was misconstrued as “Bingo!” However, this story, though retold countless times, is not corroborated.
After Beano became accepted as Bingo, the game morphed through a variety of different variants. Many contributors helped the game become more entertaining by adding innovative features and inventing types of Bingo games which lent attraction to the fairly lackluster original.
Over the years, Bingo has become the game of choice for charitable gaming. Churches, schools and other non-profit groups have found Bingo games can be a reliable source of revenue for funding non-profit projects.
The Bingo Game
The Bingo caller turns the ping pong-like balls in a ball cage. The balls are marked with numbers and letters. The caller announces the number and letter pulled from the cage while participants mark paper bingo cards with a marker, often called a bingo dauber. The simplest Bingo game is called “straight bingo” because the winner must have filled in either a complete column or row. Other variants exist in which participants must fill in sections of their bingo cards that resemble a particular design, such as a diamond.
Typically, participants in a bingo game will pay an entrance fee which buys them a certain number of bingo cards. Prizes are often gift certificates for dinner or the movies. And most games offer a jackpot in which players have the chance to win hundreds of dollars.