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Most people who reguarly play bingo in Sheffield are aware that bingo is available in two versions - the UK and the American version. The British and European version is played with 90 balls, while the American version is played with 75 balls. Ever wondered why? The answer can be found by going to the origins of the game, from which these two different forms emerged.

The origins of the game bingo can be traced to the practice of lottery games that were played in Italy during the 16th century. The game, known in Italy as ‘Lo Giuoco del Lotto’ continues to be played today as a state run national lottery. This game consists of players picking numbers, which if matched in the final random draw, entitle them to a win. The game later spread through Europe in the 18th century and became popular in countries like France and Germany. It is in England that the present form of bingo came into being and halls were built for playing bingo in Sheffield, Leeds and other major centres.

During the time, the game was not named ‘bingo’. The game, which spread far and wide, was referred to with many names like ‘Tambola’ and ‘Housey-Housey’, with the same rules applied. It was only during the Second World War that the name ‘bingo’ became the standard name of the game.

The development of bingo in the United States tells a different story. The game had reached the US by the dawn of the 20th century from which variations spawned. One of these versions was ‘beano’, popularly played at carnivals. The players used beans to mark the numbers and when a line or a full house was marked, following which players would call out ‘beano’. This form of the game used 75 balls, serving as the basis for the American version of the game.

American bingo, in its present form, was created by a New York toy salesman in the 1920s. He manufactured materials for this new game, licensed it and began selling it. The game soon became immensely popular, and led to the spread of the game in other countries as well. It is believed that he got the name ‘bingo’ when he overheard a person playing beano calling out ‘bingo’ accidentally.

Thanks to the internet and online bingo, people all over the world are aware of the different types of the game that is being played presently. The land based version is still popular, with halls being built for playing bingo in Sheffield, London, Birmingham and other places across the UK and Europe. Land-based bingo halls are popular even in the USA and continue to attract many players despite the competition posed by their online versions.

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