Who invented Bingo, and What Could They Have told us About the Economic Crash?

Those suffering from the effects of the economic crash may describe themselves as ‘not having a bean’. Yet, beans were all you needed to play bingo when it originated in the US.

While it’s not advisable to turn up at your nearest bingo hall with a can of Heinz in hand, it is possible to play online bingo without spending a bean. Good news for those whose purse strings have never been tighter.

The game was originally called ‘beano’, which for some reason seems more comical than ‘bingo’. In reality, both names must cause a twang of embarrassment to those lucky winners forced to shout them out in front of an audience of disgruntled co-players.

Played at county fairs, a dealer chose numbered discs from a cigar box while players marked their cards with beans. Of course, winners yelled ‘beano’ enthusiastically.

The game was happily played at country fairs, for nothing more than a handful of beans and the heck of it, until one hard of hearing player mistook the magic word for ‘bingo’ and yelled that out instead.

Immediately, the crowd latched on to this obviously much less ridiculous term, and bingo was born. Its development from small town game played for beans, to a worldwide industry worth billions wasn’t all plain sailing, however.

Firstly, the maths professor brought in from Columbia University to calculate different bingo card combinations was reportedly sent insane by the mammoth task. Professor Carl Leffler worked ferociously to invent 6,000 different bingo cards, whereas nowadays there would surely be an app for that saving him a lot of time and trouble.

Secondly, and ironically, bingo only started being played for money to raise funds for the Catholic church. Quite understandably, the church congregations loved their weekly fun game of bingo, and the game’s popularity increased from there.

When exactly the idea of gambling being a sin came about is a mystery; although certain members of the Catholic church have been known to suit themselves when it comes to their interpretations of God’s holy laws.

Nowadays, of course, bingo is big news. It is also rarely played in churches to avoid attention being brought to certain ingrained hypocritical tendencies, and instead devout bingo worshipers make the pilgrimage to their local bingo halls.

These bingo halls are similar in some ways to churches. In fact, some of the modern churches could be mistaken for one of these gambling dens quite easily.

Loyal bingo fans make the trip at least weekly to worship at the alter of the balls. Complete with bad carpets and uncomfortable chairs, take out the bar and the gambling bit and you could almost be at Sunday service.

Unfortunately, tough financial times have meant that many bingo players are having to avoid the overpriced bingo hall bars and stay home instead.

The good news is that it’s perfectly possible to play bingo for free, from the comfort of your own home. That is assuming that you haven’t had to sell the laptop to pay for food because, let’s face it, most of us would rather go hungry than without our daily Facebook fix.

Those reckless types who prefer to play bingo if the excitement of winning cash is involved can acquire a generous bingo bonus, just for signing up. Who knows, you may win big and solve all your financial woes.

Of course, you may not; but if you’ve had a good time trying and not gambled away the electricity bill money then it’s all good, clean, cheap fun.

However, if you’ve already hacked off your other half by splashing out on a shoe or computer game purchase, it may be safer to stick to free play bingo for now.

Had the bank big wigs who over lent and over spent stuck to beans as a form of currency, then we wouldn’t be in the financial mess that we’re in, right?

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