From hall to computer: a brief history of bingo


by Yours |
Published on

More than 3 million people still play bingo in traditional halls, but that’s just a tiny fraction of the number playing online – around 100 million! But what’s the secret to the game’s popularity and how was it created?

Where did bingo start?

The history of bingo is slightly mysterious, but it’s believed to have started in Italy in the 1500s. It quickly grew in popularity across Europe, with le Lotto being a favourite of French aristocracy in the 1700s. Le Lotto is a very similar game to the version we play today. It also travelled outside the continent, with an archaeologist called John Stephens visited Mexico in 1838 and saw people playing a similar game called La Lotteria.

How did bingo get its name?

In the USA bingo was a carnival favourite, with winners shouting ‘beano!’ instead of bingo. In 1929 Edwin Lowe saw how popular the game was at a fair, and took the idea to New York where it was played with dried beans (hence the name ‘beano’) and a rubber stamp. Its name was changed after one player got so excited he said ‘bingo’ by accident.

Does bingo have any other names?

The army traditionally called it ‘housey-housey’, while the navy knew it as ‘tombola’. It was extremely popular in the forces before and during WWII.


What are all the numbers called?

There are lots of different names for each number. Many of them are well-known, such as ‘legs 11’ and ‘two fat ladies 88’ and came about because of the shape the numbers make. Others were rhymes, such as ‘cup of tea 3’, ‘knock at the door 4’ and ‘droopy drawers 44’.

Our other favourites are ‘doctor’s orders 9’ – which referred to a WWII laxative pill called Number 9, ‘Heinz Varities 57’ after the famous advertising slogan, and ‘here comes Herbie 53’ which is the racing number of Herbie the VW Beetle – players sometimes answered ‘beep beep!


How does online bingo work?

Recent polls suggest that around 75% of players prefer online bingo to in Bingo Halls because of its simplicity. Indeed, modern players now have the ability to play online bingo via their Desktop, Tablet and Mobile devices and despite playing alone at home it hasn’t lost any of the social elements. There are designated Chat Hosts that welcome players when they come into each room and chat to the bingo community as well as running chat games where players can win cash for taking part. Another big difference is that players don’t have to mark their own numbers off the card when they are called, leaving them free to chat to their fellow Roomies and play exciting mini games in the same room.

Where can you play online?

One of the most established and trusted sites is Take A Break Bingo, this year they will be celebrating 10 years since the site first opened. They are offering new players a £30 Bingo Bonus when they register and deposit £10.*

Significant terms: 18 years and over. New Players register and deposit £10 get a £30 Bingo Bonus. Bonus will expire in 14 days – wagering terms of 4x apply before winnings can be withdrawn. Full T&Cs see

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