Posted May 18, 2016 by GamblingKing in Online Bingo

The History Of Free Bingo Games

bingo game history
bingo game history

From Lotteries To Free Online Games

Is there any pastime much more innocent and carefree than a free Bingo game?

Whether you’re playing in a smoky brick-and-mortar Bingo hall on a Sunday night with friends and loved ones or enjoying free Bingo games online at internetbingosites.com. You can also play free bingo games on Facebook, Slingo or a number of other platforms. This game has a rich, colorful and somewhat muddied history. At its barest inspiration, it’s simply an extension of a long-held truth about human beings in general: we love games of chance.

For thousands of years, people have innovated new ways to enjoy their leisure time with a side of exhilarating luck, going clear back to 16th-century Europe’s random number-draws and evolving over centuries to come. To learn a little something about the very first game we might recognize as “Bingo”, we have to travel clear back to Mexico circa 1838.

“La Lotteria”

That was what English archaeologist John Stephens called the game he witnessed while traveling in the New World. A caller announced numbers declared by balls drawn at random from a bag. Players with sheets arranging numbers from 1-90 in rows of five marked off each number called with grains of corn. Whoever covered an entire row first won this early free Bingo game’s prize.

Of course, history that early being what it is, there are some who dispute whether that was truly the “first” such free Bingo game to be played. Some accounts have a large British Navy garrison stationed in Malta passing the time with a very similar game as early as 1814, which they may have learned from the Maltese themselves.

Either way, most agree that the free bingo game at least dates back to the early half of the 1800s, and was dubbed “Housey-Housey” by the British Army and “Tombola” by the Navy. Those curious names, unfortunately, have no recorded explanation. More importantly, the game was booming by World War II and simply kept growing after.

Wherefore Art Thou “Bingo”?

Well, we know this much: “La Lotteria” (literally, “The Lottery”) excepted, bingo games have adopted some odd non-sequiter names over its centuries of evolution. Which begs the question, where on Earth did “Bingo” come from?

The apparent accepted answer: America.

Toy salesman Edwin S. Lowe was one day watching a game at a Georgia county fair in 1929 – for all intents and purposes, the very one enjoyed fur upward of 100 years by that point by Mexico, Malta, and the British Armed Forces. Since players covered their numbers with beans, one excited woman declared “Bingo!” instead of the intended phrase, “Beano!” Lowe so liked the term, that he tagged his commercially printed cards with it when he began selling them shortly after.

Interestingly enough, though, some accounts have described the game being played a year earlier in the UK, though these accounts are strictly anecdotal.

Bingo Calling

This is yet another detail that’s hard to pin down: when the random number-choosing process began.

According to most accepted accounts, it dates back to the late 1930’s following Bingo callers fixing games by calling incorrect numbers. As a deterrent alternative, a system was set up for players to toss balls into containers holding up to 90 numbered compartments to determine the next number. Since that stretched bingo games out far too long, Bingo calls covered the gap between picks. It’s exactly the Bingo-call system the British Army’s Housey-Housey games used in the 1930’s.


Where did it start? How did it take shape? How did the game get its name? Whatever the answers, one thing is undisputed: a free Bingo game is a fine way to spend an evening, wherever you may be.


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