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The History Of The Local Beano

Aug 22, 2008
The first time I had been to the Bingo was when I was a child and my grandmother was given the responsibility of taking care of me, whilst my parents were out for the evening. It did not at the time, dawn on me that this was her social evening out too and even though I was a well-behaved child I was always bribed to come along with plenty of yummy grub and lollipops. These days' going to the Bingo is something I would not do freely, for fear of seeing my grandmother's friends and facing up to the torment from my own friends.

These days one can play online Bingo rather than venturing out to socialise in a hall. Going online appears to be a common thing for many people, allowing people to play in real time and chat with others hooked up to the net. However I have often wondered why this has now become an exclusive activity for people aged 45 and above, more specifically the stereotypical grandparent-type.

The answer may lie in the history of how it first came about, when it was once known as the beano in the U.S. An unusual name, but a popular activity nonetheless. Though its history does not reach far back in the U.S, in fact it can be traced way back in the 1530's in Italy! Lo Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia was created just as Italy at united and was a renowned national lottery organisation that is still running to this day.

Despite the fact the church disapproved of the newly instigated lottery, it was overpowered by the large number of people who had decided to participate on a regular basis. The combination of the church disapproval further attracted local communities to take part in the game, hence eventually making it available and widespread across Europe. The classic game of bingo consisted of using playing cards that were separated into 27 squares. Each of the rows contained 4 blank cards and 5 filled cards with random numbers - this is not so dissimilar to the current 90 ball game.

The random numbers ranged from the numbers 1 - 10 on the first column, 11 - 20 in the second lot of column and continued this way until the last column read from 81 - 90. To complete the set, numbered chips were created for the caller to call out the number from cloth bag. Each player were given a single lottery card, so when their number was called out they would simply cover the number on their card. Like the modern day bingo game, the first person with an entire column covered was the winner.

Over the years this game became very popular and during the 1800s many intellectuals saw this as a great way to turn the fun game into an educational teaching tool for teaching multiplications. The German lotto saw to the first teachings of multiplications using a lotto card format. The same technique was used for spelling and history.

When the game hit the U.S in 1929, a little known gentleman by the name of Edwin S. Lowe, then a New York toy salesman, decided to take a little trip to Jacksonville Georgia for an appointment. Upon driving he took a different turn and came across a carnival, seeing as time was not a problem, he decided to observe what the carnival was about. Upon his visit he noticed that the carnival crew were playing a game of lotto, with a pitchman calling out the numbers by drawing out wooden numbered chips from an old cigar box. The players would play using numbered cards and cover the numbers on their card using beans. Upon winning a column the word 'beano' would be shouted, and thus Lowe was inspired.

He decided to introduce this game to his home city of New York, whereby he would play with many of his friends. Upon playing one night, one particular friend showed the same excitement and enthusiasm for the game, that instead of shouting out 'beano' she had in fact stuttered the word 'Bingo', in which Lowe decided he would replace the game name. And so the game as we know it transferred into a worldwide gaming entertainment with thousands of venues dedicated to it.

Lowe decided it was a great money making entertainment, and began distributing his own cards. He had then later transformed it into a more complicated game, with more lotto numbers introduced and devising 6,000 cards with the help of a brilliant mathematician Carl Leffler.

How it became a game for people much older than I? That is a question that many would demand to be down to advertising and marketing. Also the game has been in play for many centuries, that game was a popular demand and source for older generations in their time. If there is a market for a specific group of people then the gaming industry will tailor it to that group. These days it has become something tailored to a wider audience using online services and TV celebrities promoting the game.
About the Author
Anna Stenning used to go to bingo with her grandmother, and sometimes accompanies her mother to a game every now and again.
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