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History of Bingo

Soon the game became popular in France. In 1778 the French had their own version of the lottery called Le Lotto. This led to the development of the classic game of Lotto. The game consisted of cards which was divided into three horizontal and approximately nine vertical rows. The horizontal rows had five numbered squares and four blank squares which was randomly arranged. The vertical rows had numbers 1 to 90 grouped on separate rows of the card. The cards were all unique. The game also consisted of chips numbered from 1 to 90. Each player received a single card, the caller would draw a number and call it out aloud. The players would then proceed to covering the numbers if it appeared on their card. A player needed to be the first to cover a horizontal row in order to be declared the winner.

During the 19th Century lotto games were used for educational purposes. In the 1850s Germany designed a form of Lotto to teach children multiplication tables. These games had names like: Spelling Lotto, Animal Lotto and Historical Lotto.

In 1929 Germany saw the rise of a game called Beano. Beano was a variation of the Lotto. A caller would pull out a small number written on a wooden disk from a box and call the number out loud. The players would mark their cards by placing a bean on the number. Whenever a player filled a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line on the card he would shout Beano!, and claim his prize. The game was later brought to New York by a man named Ed Lowe, who came across the game while traveling with a carnival in Germany.

Low made a few alterations in the original game on his return to the United States. Ed Low played the game in his apartment with friends and assumed the Callers duties. During one of the sessions a woman had one number left to win, it was called and instead of shouting Beano she shouted BINGO!. Low renamed the game from Beano to Bingo. The game became an instant success and Lowes company benefited from this.

After the apparent success of the game, many imitators were born. Low however was not particularly bothered by the whole affair. He asked his competitors to pay him a dollar a year and rename their games to bingo.

A priest from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania had problems in his parish, and came up with the idea of using Bingo to raise funds for the church. The priest had bought several sets of Lowes Bingo game. However there were problems when each game produced half a dozen winners. This problem had to be solved by adding many more combinations of numbers for the playing cards. Lowe went to a professor of mathematics at Columbia University, Carl Leffler for help. The professor created 6,000 new Bingo cards with non repeating number groups. This proved a difficult task for the professor as each card became more and more complex. The task was eventually completed and the professor was paid $100 per card.

This new twist saw the church of Wilkes-Barre saved from financial trouble. The news spread like a wild fire. The high demand saw the publishing of Bingos first Instructional Manual and later a monthly newsletter called the Blotter. Currently entire floors of the New York office space are trying to keep up with the high demand. All thanks to Ed Lowe for introducing the game of BINGO!!!!