History of Bingo

Bingo is a game of chance played with a field of 75 numbers and a game board. The history of bingo is reputed to date back to the Romans, but was officially recorded as a children's game in 1778.

Going by the name of lotto until 1930, bingo assumed its present name when an American patented the title. The game of bingo was originally played in America during the Depression as a way for churches to raise money for the poor. Bingo was first legalized in the 1950's in the cities of New York and New Jersey, and today takes in more than three billion dollars a year.

Bingo Game Play

Each bingo game card has 24 different preprinted numbers with a free spot in the center. Bingo game cards come in two forms, disposable paper sheets and hard permanent cards. The paper cards are marked with a special marker called a bingo blotter and are thrown away at the end of each game.

Permanent cards have little shutters or windows that can be slid over top of a number when it is called. These shutters are simply retracted at the end of each game and the card is reused. The only real difference in reference to the game is that while the numbers on a permanent card remain the same, disposable cards will have new numbers each time.

Players are given the option of playing more than one card at a time at an additional cost.

Each column on a bingo card starts with one of the letters in the word BINGO. The column letters are used to group and more easily identify the numbers contained in each column below.

Column Numbers Contained Number Range
B five 01-15
I five 16-30
N four, because the center spot is always free 31-45
G five 46-60
O five 61-75

Games are played out in many patterns, the most basic being a straight line in any direction: vertical, horizontal or diagonal. Other patterns include the four corners of the board, or shapes such as the letter T. A coverall game is one in which players win when all of the numbers on their card have been selected. The caller will announce the selected pattern for each game before it starts.

There are 75 lightweight bingo balls, each printed with one of the letter/number combinations. They are encased in either a ball cage or a glass blower where they can be spun around to ensure that each pick is random and fair. Some gaming houses may forgo this process and use a computerized random number generator. After a bingo ball is selected, its number is announced by the caller and displayed on an electronic board for all of the players to see. The caller then places these called balls into a separate tray to ensure that they will not be selected again.

This process of selecting and calling balls is repeated until one or more players cover the selected pattern for that game and shout out, "Bingo!" A floor person or checker is then responsible for verifying that the pattern is correct and that the numbers on the card match the numbers that have been called. If these numbers correspond, then the game is closed and the winner is declared and the prize is paid out. If more than one player has won, the prize money is split up into equal parts.

Some casinos offer progressive bingo games which give players the chance to win large amounts of money. The jackpot on the final game of the session increases by a few hundred dollars each time it is played and not won.