How and Why Bingo Went Virtual

Bingo neon text isolated on black background

Ever wondered how and why bingo made its way online? Just like so many other online games, bingo started off being played in real life and has now morphed into a number of online varieties. Let’s take a look at bingo’s history, from start to present, to learn all about our beloved game!

A brief insight into how and why bingo went virtual

B-I-N-G-O — an easy enough combo of letters to shout out, but where did it all begin? After doing a bit of digging through the treasure troves of bingo’s history, we’ve found some of the key points along the game’s eventful lifetime:

1. Early beginnings

According to most sources, the game we know as bingo today started in Italy, and was known as Il Gioco del Lotto d’Italia, where it was actually a type of lottery. A prominent part of Italian culture, this trend soon made its way up through France and across the channel to the UK.

As far as cross-continental influences go, the game started out as “beano” in the USA, where people played a carnival game by placing beans on number sheets. An avid entrepreneur called Erwin Lowe saw this and popularised it as “bingo” when he apparently heard someone shout out the wrong name (so, technically that person coined the name without even knowing it!).

From there, the game quickly became popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

2. Bingo halls

Vintage photo of aged retro bingo sign outside bingo hall

After travelling around the world and changing everywhere it went, bingo then transformed into a social event when a local priest is said to have taken such a liking to the game, that he started to play it at his parish! Since then, bingo has been largely associated with charity events, and is an important contributor to social causes, both in the UK and the USA.

This may have a lot to do with the fact that before television, bingo was a popular game that a lot of people played for fun in towns and cities across the UK, especially in the 1960s (just imagine a game of bingo to the sound of some classic 60s funk). Over the last while, traditional halls have largely been associated with grans and grandpas, who probably grew up playing the game, but that is not always the case. In fact, nowadays, the younger generation of players have turned bingo nights into wild parties!

3. Bingo clubs

Some might still think that bingo is a boring and stuffy old people’s game, but if you’ve ever been to a bingo party, you know otherwise. Many cities in the UK have turned the game on its head by hosting wild themed parties, where numbers are daubed to the backdrop of loud music and stage performances, pirate-style!

This all started happening at an interesting time, when bingo is being played both online on bingo sites and in person. It just goes to show that despite being stereotyped as an old person’s game, bingo’s fun and simplicity will always make it a favourite for people of all ages from all walks of life.

4. Bingo goes online

Front view of diverse people sitting on long bench on different technological devices

As the internet began to grow, entrepreneurs became interested in taking gaming into the online space. This worked out so well that, in the early 2000s, bingo decided to go digital too!

There are a bunch of other reasons why online bingo took off like it did; like the fact that bingo halls were normally built in seaside holiday towns, which didn’t receive the same amount of traffic when flying overseas for holidays became more affordable. These days you can play your favourite bingo games pretty much anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.

This, and many other reasons, might have meant bingo halls became a little emptier, but the game itself has clearly not suffered – just go take a look at the amount of people playing on the best online bingo sites.

In fact, playing online bingo games has some advantages that bingo halls don’t, such as not needing to pay such close attention to the numbers being called out, as they are counted automatically. This means that there is more time to get involved in the banter and make friends in the online chatbox, and of course, to focus on winning!

5. The future of bingo as we know it

Bearded young man wearing virtual reality goggles in modern studio

As bingo continues to become more and more popular online, people are starting to talk about what the future will look like. With the rise of virtual and augmented reality, who knows? Perhaps one of these days you can play bingo games online but still feel like you’re in a traditional hall or club, thanks to VR wearables.

Either way, it’s clear that the success of online bingo games means that it’s here to stay, and for now, you can continue to enjoy it on either your desktop or with bingo for mobile.

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