Bingo has been available on the internet since the 1990’s, but it wasn’t until the mid-2000’s that playing bingo online became really popular world wide. Some of the pioneers in the field of online bingo were Bingo Zone, Bingo Blitz (Uproar) and Gamesville (nineCo).
When we play bingo on our computers, smart phones and surf pads we are actually playing a game with centuries old roots. Traveling side shows used to offer bingo on county fairs and similar in Europe, and from there the game spread to other parts of the world. Bingo was played on reusable bingo tickets made from wood, and numbers were marked not with a pen but with a marker that could be removed afterward, such as a pebble or large seeds.
As early as the 1770’s, gamblers in Italy and France enjoyed a game where each player got a ticket filled with 27 squares, divided into three rows and nine columns. In each row, five of the nine squares had a number. The lowest possible number was 1, while the highest possible number was 90. Anyone who has played modern 90 ball bingo recognizes these rules.
A very important person in the history of modern bingo was Edwin Lowe from New York. In December 1929, this toy merchant was on his way to Atlanta when he encountered a traveling side show in the outskirts of the city. It was late at night and most booths where closed, but one remained opened and had attracted a large crowd of people. Upon further inspection, Lowe found a game completely new to him – beano. It was played with reusable tickets, just as the old fashioned bingo described above, and called beano since the markers used were beans.
Edwin Lowe realized that “beano” could be turned into a popular game for families and developed a board-game version for home use. People no longer had to seek out side shows to play beano / bingo and the game quickly became a great success in the United States and abroad. Edwin Lowes bingo box came in two different versions: 12 tickets for $1 or 24 tickets for $2.