Bingo is based on the traditional Italian “Lotto” from the 16th century which in turn is based on the even more traditional Chinese “Keno” from more than 2000 years ago. It is a game of luck that was invented in the 30’s of the last century by a salesman who had a lucky hand that not only protected him from the great depression but also created one of the most successful games in the following 80 years.
Edwin S. Lowe from New York was on his way to a meeting in Georgia when he passed a fairground. For some reason, he took a walk over the area which was almost dark already. Only one tent was still illuminated – and full of people. He had a look but could almost not see anything as there were too many people blocking his sight. But he realised that these people were waging money on the appearance of random numbers. To claim their bets, they would place little beans on big number cards. Due to this fact, the operator of the tent called this game “beano”.
He had imported it from a journey through Europe where it was played as a variant of Lotto.
Lowe decided to design his own beano clone and developed the first prototypes of “Bingo”. The name is allegedly based on a test play where one of his friends was so excited about winning a round that she screamed “Bingo” instead of “Beano”.
Later, Lowe engaged a talented mathematician to calculate a formula for producing as many unique bingo cards as possible. It is said that the mathematician went mad over this task. But as we all know today, he succeeded and Bingo is today one of the most commonly played games all over the world.