Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Wonder Friend. Wonder Friend Wonders, “Do You Like to Play Bingo?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Wonder Friend!
In fact, we bet most of our Wonder Friends have played bingo at least once. Whether you go with your grandmother to a local bingo night at the community center or you play bingo to help learn math facts in school, bingo is a popular way to pass the time.
Bingo has been around a long time. It first became popular in the United States in the early 1900s. However, its roots can be traced back to 1530, when a lottery called "Lo Gioco del Lotto d'Italia" began in Italy.
The Italian lottery spurred other countries to start lotteries, too. Many of these early lottery games featured playing cards with multiple columns and rows marked with numbers. A caller would pull random numbers from a bag, and the first person to fill an entire row would win the lottery.
The modern version of bingo was made popular by a New York toy salesman named Edwin S. Lowe. In the late 1920s, Lowe saw a game called “beano" played at a carnival in Atlanta, Georgia. It was similar to old lottery games and was called “beano" because players used dried beans to mark their cards as numbers were called.
When a player filled an entire row of numbers — horizontal, vertical or diagonal — he or she would shout “Beano!" and win a small prize. Lowe loved the game and introduced it to his friends, one of whom accidentally shouted “Bingo!" upon winning.
From that point on, the game became known as “Lowe's Bingo" and it spread quickly across the country. Many organizations soon realized the fundraising potential of the game. Players would pay to play bingo, and a portion of the funds would be given out as prizes while the remainder was kept by the organizers.
Today, bingo is played all across the United States. From tiny church basements to huge halls that seat thousands, bingo is a popular game that millions of people enjoy. And your odds of winning are usually much better than winning the lottery. While winning some money is always fun, most bingo players enjoy the aspect of playing a fun game with their friends.
As a game of chance, bingo is played with randomly-drawn numbers that players must match against numbers on their bingo cards. Most bingo cards feature five columns and five rows with a “free space" in the very middle.
The columns are named after the letters in bingo, and each column has a set of numbers that it can contain. For example, the “B" column will usually contain only the numbers 1-15. When calling out numbers, a caller will say the letter of the column, followed by the number. For example, a caller who draws out the number 3 will call out “B — 3." If someone only needed “B — 3" to complete a row, you'll soon hear a loud shout of “Bingo!"