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The early roots of bingo

As we know it today, were formed in 16th century Italy when the Italian National Lottery, Il Giuoco del Lotto del d’Italia, was invented.

It has been held, almost uninterrupted, at weekly intervals, to this date.

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However, Britain were a bit behind the rest of the world when it comes to playing bingo. It didn’t appear in this country until after the World War Two and was only greeted with huge popularity in the 1960s.

However, where did the name bingo come from?

Well, legend has it that it comes from the game’s acclaim in North America came in the 1920s when United States toymaker Edwin Lowe stumbled across the game while travelling through Georgia.

At a carnival he came across a group of people playing a game called Beano. This saw one person, the caller, pulling wooden disk out of a cigar box and calling them aloud, while players frantically tried to see if the number appeared on their card. If it did, they placed a bean on that number to register it.
Lowe took the game back to New York with him, but changed it slightly using a rubber stamp instead of beans. All of his friends loved the game and one player was so excited when he won that he called out bingo instead of beano.

The name stuck and by the 1940s people all across America were playing the game under its new title.

Bingo has benefited greatly in recent years due to the invention of online bingo. In 2004 it was estimated that there were around 20 online bingo website operating in the UK – a number which has now rocketed to 350 and that does not include the international casino websites that allow UK players to play against people from all around the world.

Bingo was once a game that was synonymous with old ladies playing in village or town halls. However, just because of the immense popularity of bingo online, doesn’t mean that bingo halls are dying out. In fact, it is the complete opposite. It is thought that around three million people play bingo in halls in the UK.
It adds to the social element of playing bingo, to meet up with other players and celebrate their wins. However, to cater for that online many bingo sites now introduce chat room functions in their bingo rooms. As a result this is encouraging people to get to know each other online as well and make new friends.

In England the numbers called out in Bingo have phrases that are associated them.

Most numbers from one to 90 has a phrase, but here are list of the more popular and readily used phrases: 1 Kelly’s Eye, 2 one little duck, 4 knock at the door, 7 lucky, 8 one fat lady, 10 David’s Den – named after the current Prime Minister at No. 10 Downing Street, 11 Legs, 12 one dozen, 13 unlucky for some, 16 never been kissed, 21 key of the door, 22 two little ducks, 27 a duck and a crutch, 33 all the threes, 36 three dozen, 39 steps, 53 here comes Herbie, 57 Heinz variety, 59 the Brighton line, 77 Sunset Strip, 84 Seven dozen, 90 top of the shop.

A typical bingo ticket contains 27 spaces, arranged in nine columns by three rows. Each row contains five numbers and four blank spaces. Each column contains up to three numbers, which are arranged as follows.

The first column contains numbers from 1 to 9 (or 10); the second column numbers from 10 (or 11) to 20, and the third, 20 (or 21) to 30 and so on up until the last column, which contains numbers from 81 to 90. Tickets are created as strips of six, because this allows every number from 1 to 90 to appear across all six tickets.

Players can win by getting any of the following combinations: Four corners – the leftmost and rightmost numbers on the top and bottom lines, a line – covering a horizontal line of five numbers on the ticket, two lines – covering any two lines on the same ticket – and full house – covering all fifteen numbers on the ticket.

Full houses are called last with the four corners and lines going before.

Therefore, a full house ends that current game of bingo and generally get rewarded with the top prizes.

In UK bingo clubs, all books are purchased from a book sales desk. These are usually located in the entrance of a club. Playing is divided into sessions with different books, each with a designated number of pages.

In most bingo clubs, including all Gala and Mecca clubs, the first session, known as either the early session, at Mecca, or the first chance, at Gala, is a three-page book played at around 1pm, for afternoon sessions, and 7pm, for evening sessions.

However, the start time can vary per club.

This is then followed by the main session, which consists of around 11 pages of bingo with a break in the middle of around half an hour.

When players purchase their tickets, almost all players purchase tickets for the main session. Some arrive earlier and purchase books for the early session. When the main session finishes, there is another break followed by a late session. At Mecca, the late session consists of three pages and costs £3.

However, despite the small amounts of money wagered, there can be some big wins in bingo. In 2012 a Jobcentre worker John Orchard scooped £5.9million after betting just 30p on a video slot game based on the Batman film The Dark Knight. It was, at the time, the biggest bingo win.

Mr Orchard had only been playing on the Butlers Bingo website for a few days before his extraordinary win on a wheel of fortune-type of game. Meanwhile, 33-year-old Lisa Potter won £1.3m playing online Bingo from a £5 bet in 2012. She admitted she only played the game as she was bored of watching all the football that was on the TV at the time because of the European Championships.