Online Bingo Hits New Heights

Players at bingo sites may be surprised to find they are actually playing a new version of a 500 year old game. Bingo originated in Italy where it was a type of lottery. The game spread across Europe and by the end of the 19th century was used to teach schoolchildren mathematics in Germany. The 90 ball version of the game was originally called Tombola and was brought to Britain by merchant sailors at the end of the 19th century. Currently 90 ball bingo is the dominant bingo game in the UK and its former colonies such as Australia where it is known as ‘housie.’

Bingo travelled across the Atlantic to the United States where toy salesman Edwin S. Lowe saw the game being played at a county fair in the 1920’s. The game was known as ‘beano’ and Lowe went on to design the 75 ball bingo cards still used today. The games popularity spread and it is unknown exactly when the game became known as bingo. Soon Catholic churches began using bingo for fundraising and the move was so successful that charitable organizations and veterans groups started using bingo to raise money.

Bingo went online in 1996 and soon there were hundreds of bingo sites offering online bingo games for cash prizes. The rapid growth continues until 2007 when the US passed anti online gambling legislation which caused industry wide chaos. Bingo sites banned American players losing millions of dollars annually because of the new law. Online bingo operators focused their efforts on the UK and Europe and it wasn’t long before the bingo industry recovered and expanded into new bingo markets. Today there are about 400 online bingo sites serving the British market and new bingo sites are launched weekly. Today British and European bingo markets generate about $2 billion dollars annually.

In the UK land based bingo has been declining since 2006 but recently there has been a revival of sorts for the land based bingo industry. Some bingo clubs report increased attendance and many industry observers say that online bingo has contributed to the popularity of the game and attracted a whole new generation of bingo players. Statistics compiled in 2010 show that bingo is more popular than ever and the game continues to evolve thanks to new technologies. Many experts expect the US to repeal the draconian restrictions on online bingo which could trigger the next bingo boom.

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