The History and Development of Bingo
Last Updated: July 27, 2023
Like poker, the origin of bingo is up for debate, though most scholars agree that it was inspired by an Italian lottery game from around 1530, which traveled throughout Europe before being popularized in Great Britain in the 1700s.
However, it wasn't until the 1920s that the modern game of bingo came to fruition, and the modern bingo card design came after in 1942.
But, how has the game developed over the years? How has technology impacted how we play bingo? And do the games differ from place to place? Let's take a look.
Impact of Technological Changes
Seeing a similar effect to the one had on poker, perhaps the most significant impact of technology on the game of bingo is the rise of online casinos.
Nowadays, bingo fans in the UK can play bingo at Paddy Power, choosing from on-demand and live bingo games alike.
Though some of these games such as the Gold, Diamond, and Pearl Rooms are more akin to the classic game of bingo, others are inspired by Greek mythology, popular TV shows, and ancient Egypt, including games like Age of the Gods, Deal or No Deal, and Gifts of Ra.
As the popularity of online casino games such as these have seen a rise over the past couple of decades, this has also paved the way for a brand new way of playing bingo, known as Slingo.
As the name suggests, Slingo combines the rules of bingo and the mechanics of slot games – players get a 5×5 grid that resembles a bingo card, and spin the reel to mark of the numbers on their card.
Thanks to the rise of software development and cloud technology, explained in more detail by Microsoft, both live games and Slingo games can be played on any phone, laptop, PC, or tablet with internet connectivity.
Technology has also allowed for new ways to play the game. Whilst, traditionally, bingo would be played with paper bingo cards, colored bingo dabbers, and a spinning cage full of numbered balls, some modern bingo games utilize digital bingo machines, random number generators (RNGs), and digital bingo cards on touchscreen devices, transforming the way we interact with the game.
Bingo Developed Differently in UK and US
Though the impact of technology on the game of bingo has been largely the same throughout the world, before this, bingo split off into two different strains with two different sets of rules – one of which is played in the UK, and the other in the US.
The game is thought to have been brought to the US from the UK, popularized by Hugh J. Ward in carnivals throughout Western Pennsylvania in the 1920s.
Just as in UK poker, players are dealt four cards whilst in the US players get five, the main difference between the two variations of bingo is the number of balls that are in play.
In the UK, bingo is played with 90 balls, and bingo cards – known as tickets – contain 27 spaces in a 9×3 grid. However, in the US, bingo is played with 75 balls, and bingo cards 25 spaces in a 5×5 grid, the columns labeled ‘B' ‘I' ‘N' ‘G' ‘O' from left to right.
Of course, there are other variations to the game – from gameplay to terminology, there's too much to mention – which highlight just how much bingo has developed throughout history, and has been molded to fit different cultures over time