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Bingo Around The World

Bingo was invented in 1929. It is a game of chance that’s played on the probability of getting a certain pattern of numbers on a printed ticket. There are online versions of the game as well. While it cannot be called gambling in a negative sense, bingo is a gambling game. Players buy tickets which have a random collection of numbers. The game master calls out the numbers and the players mark these numbers. If a player has a particular pattern on the ticket (as decided by the game master) they call “bingo!” and win prize money after their ticket is checked. The game has a lot of variations, and usually, the game master controls what variations win prize money. A lot of times, people play multiple tickets in the hopes of having a better chance at a win.

It’s Not Just Gambling

While bingo is associated with gambling, what a lot of people fail to recognize is the social aspect of the game. It’s a great way to meet people and break the ice over a common love for this game. A hall full of strangers can be intimidating for some, but bonding over a game such as this, and socializing after usually helps in creating a social circle.

A lot of schools in America are using Bingo innovatively – especially for slow learners. Bingo cards are being used as reading tools for children with the numbers in the cards being replaced with beginner words, numbers, and other educational aids.

Historical Bingo

There are traces of such communal bingo games as far back as the 1500s. It is said that in the 19th century a similar game was used to help teach young children all manner of things – including spelling. It was not until 1778 that the first version of Lotto/Tambola/Housie appeared and that is the origin point of Bingo as we know it today.

It wasn’t until the early 1920s that the game was standardized at public gatherings such as carnivals in and around Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. The copyright and official rule book were obtained in 1933. The game was given a bigger boost by Edward Lowe when he took it from the carnivals and to the city of New York where it gained an instant popularity.

Is It Legal?

While a lot of people swear by their bingo nights and keep it going as a tradition, there are some states where bingo is not legal. However, this is mostly a church or charity activity in the States, so the stakes are not very high. In some instances, there are games which are a season end game that has very high stakes. In states like Nevada, Bingo is highly regulated where the game is offered only in casinos and that too to local gamblers. Bingo games are not found in the major tourist casinos in Nevada.


Bingo Lingo

If you’re tired of all the informative stuff, there’s a lot of fun aspect to bingo as well. Even though the game is declining in popularity, it is now widely played online. Technology has ensured that the game is kept alive.


However, as a newbie, it is difficult to navigate the game if you don’t know certain words and terminology. Here’s a small primer of some of the terms that seasoned players use while playing the game:


  • Ready/waiting/cased/set/down/chance – refers to a player who needs one number to win
  • P'ossible / breaking the bubble – the minimum number of balls required for a possible bingo
  • Reach – this is a term used in Japan where a player shouts this out if they are one number short from a bingo call
  • Wild numbers – a wild number allow bingo players to start with multiple called numbers
  • Forwards/backwards – all the numbers that begin or end with the wild number
  • False alarm – a bogey call, when you call bingo but it’s not valid
  • Hard way bingo – this is a pattern that has no free spaces
  • Standard – all numbers that end with the the second digit of the first number
  • Jumping the gun – one who calls the game before its won