Origins of Bingo
THE ORIGINS OF BINGO… how it all began
Bingo as we know it today is a form of lottery and is a direct descendant of Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia. When Italy was united
in 1530, the Italian National Lottery Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia was organized, and has been held, almost without pause,
at weekly intervals to this date. Today the Italian State lottery is indispensable to the government’s budget, with a yearly
contribution in excess of 75 million dollars.
In 1778 it was reported in the French press that Le Lotto had captured the fancy of the intelligentsia. In the classic version
of Lotto, which developed during this period, the playing card used in the game was divided into three horizontal and nine
vertical rows. Each horizontal row had fi ve numbered and four blank squares in a random arrangement. The vertical rows
contained numbers from 1 to 9 in the fi rst row, 10 to 19 in the second row, etc.., up to 90. Each horizontal row had 5 numbers.
No two Lotto cards were alike. Chips numbered from 1 to 90 completed the playing equipment. Players were dealt a single
Lotto card, then the caller would draw a small wooden, numbered token from a cloth bag and read the number aloud. The
players would cover the number if it appeared on their card. The fi rst player to cover a horizontal row was the winner.
In the 1800’s educational Lotto games became popular. A German Lotto game of the 1850’s was designed to teach children
their multiplication tables. There were other educational Lotto games such as ‘Spelling Lotto,’ ‘Animal Lotto,’ and ‘Historical
Lotto.” Even in today’s highly competitive toy and game market, Lotto is holding its own; Milton Bradley sells a Lotto game
featuring the Sesame Street Muppets. The game is designed to provide children in the 3 to 6 year age range with a splash of
fun while, at the same time, teaching them to count and recognize numbers.