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The History of Bingo

Bingo is a very popular game that is played all around the world, and most people have played it at least once in their lifetime. The rules are quite simple so many people know how to play it. However, the history of Bingo is not so well known. The first recorded game of Bingo can be dated half a century ago, in the prosperous time of Renaissance in Italy. The Italian National Lottery that today is a very important part of the Italian economy because millions of people play it was founded in 1530.

The modern Bingo game as we know it today can be dated back to the 18th century, when the Italian lottery spread outside its borders to the neighboring France where it was a popular pastime for many people belonging to the high classes. The game that was developed at this time used bingo cards with numbers arranged in 3 rows and 9 columns. Out of nine squares in the rows, five were numbered and four were randomly arranged black squares. The numbers in the columns were between 1and 90. The first column was numbered 1 through 10, the second column 11 through 20, and so on. There were no two identical bingo cards. To draw numbers the caller used chips that were numbered 1throug 90. Those chips were drawn from a cloth bag and then called out loud to the players. The game was won by the first player that would cover every number in one of the 3 rows.

In the mid 19th century Germany Bingo was given a didactic purpose, as it started being used as an educational game for children, helping them learn multiplication tables through a game. Since this method proved effective, in time it spread to various subjects such as history, spelling and animal kingdom, and these kind of didactic lotto games are still used in schools.

The game was made popular in America by Edwin Lowe in the 20th century. He was a bankrupted toy salesman, and he came upon the game by chance at a county carnival. Bingo was very popular at the carnival and many people played it with enthusiasm. The game was names "beano", since players used beans to cover the numbers on their card after the caller drew and read out loud the extracted number, and the first person that covered all the numbers in a row on his card would call out beano. Even if Lowe was broke he could still recognize a good game, and he wanted to bring it to New York and see if people would like it there too. He brought a game that used a stamp, desiccated beans, and a cardboard with numbers written on it.

Lowe presented the game to his friends who enjoyed it very much and were playing it as enthusiastically as the people at the carnival. The game got its popular name Bingo by accident. During one game a woman got so excited for being close to winning that instead of shouting beano she yelled "Bingo". However this name stuck and Lowe used it in promoting the game that soon became very popular in the United States.

Lowe never trademarked the name since he simply took it from public domain. As Bingo became popular other people came up with variations of the game they also marketed as Bingo. In stead of contesting the competitors Lowe asked them only to pay him a yearly $1 fee. With more people marketing the game soon it became among the most popular games in the country. Nowadays it is becoming increasingly popular on the internet too.

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