It's safe to say the bingo is quintessentially British. Huge rooms full of a certain gender / age furiously marking numbers called out by a man in a waistcoat, thousands of pounds at stake and shrieks of delight when rows, corners or entire cards are coloured fully. That's the stereotype anyway, but the truth is bingo has evolved from a parochial pastime to a multi-million pound industry that is making waves across the globe.
Bingo as we know it began in the 1500s in Italy before making its was across Europe and to England in the 1700s. The game was a fairly basic lottery, with numbers drawn and matched up with prospective players, not too dissimilar to the game we see played today. The real revolutionary steps came in the 1910s and 1920s, when carnivals were offering a version of bingo that involved matching numbers to tickets or balls drawn from a hat. It wasn't until the height of World War 2 that a certain Ernest S. Lowe
patented the bingo card, giving us the grid format and rules we use today.
The bingo hall became extremely popular in 40s and 50s Britain thanks to pioneers like Lowe who spread the game across both the United States and the world. People were quick to realise that bingo was not just something to pass the time, but a social event that would draw friends and family to a single place, with the added benefit that some money could be made. Going to the bingo became something that people did without thinking, smashing down boundaries that kept gambling inside the bookmakers and especially away from women.
Bingo can owe a lot of its success to the simplicity and ease of access of playing a game. Setting up a game is incredibly simple, with numbered balls drawn from a high-tech digital machine or a bag filled with ping pong balls. Games can be slow and steady in a social environment or fast and frantic, in video-feed national tournaments
with thousands of players in each game. Alongside the more traditional bingo hall games however, a new obsession has exploded thanks to the internet.
Online bingo does exactly what it says on the tin, taking the excitement of the bingo hall and bringing it to people's phones, smart devices and tablets. Sites like Wink Bingo
have taken bingo in its simplest form and transformed it into an incredible player experience, with themed games, thriving online communities and huge jackpots that keep climbing even if someone is lucky enough to win big. The beauty of online bingo is that you don't even need to leave the house to join in the action, saving on expensive taxis, drinks and limited jackpots thanks to the overheads that bingo halls need to cover. Online operators don't need to worry about the heating bill!
The biggest change to the world of bingo however has been the smart phone. Bingo can be accessed anywhere, 24 hours a day meaning that avid players don't need to wait to get home or head down to a bingo hall to enjoy a game. Bingo apps and websites are designed for mobiles, so the experience is just as good, if not better than on a PC. This cutting edge technology has changed the way we play bingo forever, but it is only the start of the next generation of bingo games. Developments like virtual reality
could have a huge impact on the way we game online, with players able to interact with each other in a 3D environment. Imagine visiting a virtual bingo hall with your friends without having to leave the house?
No matter what the next step for bingo is, it's certain that the lasting appeal and simplicity will ensure that bingo will be a game that carries on from generation to generation.