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Bingo rules and payouts vary from place to place, but the general rules are this: Players obtain bingo cards with numbers on them in a 5 x 5 grid corresponding to the five letters in the word BINGO. Numbers are drawn at random out of a possible 75 in the form of letter-number, such as B-11 or O-68, until one player completes the stated bingo pattern, such as a line with five numbers in a vertical, horizontal or diagonal row.

Popular online bingogames include Three-Eyed Bingo and Bingo Zone. If you like bingo, you may also enjoy Frantic Fish.

Anatomy of a Bingo Card

A bingo card is a grid that contains 24 numbered spaces and one free space. The numbers are assigned at random on each card and are arranged in five columns of five numbers each by five rows, including the blank square in the center of the grid.

The numbers in the B column range from 1 to 15; the I column ranges from 16 to 30; the N column ranges from 31 to 45; the G column ranges from 46 to 60; and the O column ranges from 61 to 75.

Bingo History

Bingo made its way to America via a carnival pitchman touring Germany. There he came across a lottery game and recognized its potential appeal as a carnival tent game. He made a few revisions to the game play, including allowing players to complete a row vertically, horizontally or diagonally in order to win. And he changed the name to Beano.

He was plying his trade one December evening in 1929 at a carnival near Atlanta, Georgia, when a traveling toy salesman, Edwin S. Lowe, happened along. Early for a sales call, Lowe decided to stop at the carnival. The only tent open was the Beano tent, which was so crowded with people that Lowe wasn't able to play the game for himself.

Lowe watched as the players eagerly listened for the next number to be called and, if they had the number on their card, covered it with a bean. The excitement and tension in the crowd was palpable. When a player finally had a row covered, they yelled out "Beano!" Lowe watched in astonishment as the pitchman tried several times to close his tent, only to have the players insist he continue. It wasn't until 3:00 am that the games ended, and even then the pitchman had to chase the players away.

Lowe immediately realized the mass market potential for Beano. Upon his return to his home in New York, he created his own Beano game by procuring some beans, cardboard and a rubber number stamp. He invited friends to his apartment to play the game. There he saw the same rapt attention and excitement that he had witnessed at the carnival. One player in particular was growing ever more excited as the beans piled up on her card. When she finally had a complete row, in her rush to yell out the required "Beano," she became tongue tied and instead stammered, "B-b-bingo!"

"I cannot describe the strange sense of elation which that girl's cry brought to me," Lowe said. "All I could think of was that I was going to come out with this game, and it was going to be called Bingo!"

Lowe's earliest Bingo games came in two varieties: a 12-card set that cost a dollar and a 24-card set that cost two dollars. Although the name "Bingo" could have been trademarked, the game itself, having come out of the public domain, had no chance of being protected. Once the success of Lowe's game was evident, imitators came out of the woodwork. Lowe's only request to his competitors was for them to pay him a dollar a year to call their games "Bingo." Thus the name became generic for the game.

Bingo Trivia

There are 2½ million regular female bingo players.

Played by all ages around the world, 30% of bingo players are under the age of 35.

Ninety-six percent of bingo players have won at some point while playing.

Research shows women are much happier playing bingo, and 15% say they engage in bingo for socializing and companionship.

The number one reason for playing bingo is enjoyment — winning money comes in fifth.

It is believed that our current day bingo originated from an Italian Lottery called Lo Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia in 1530.

A toy salesman, Edwin S. Lowe, brought bingo to the masses with "Lowe's Bingo." The game saved his newly-founded toy company, the E.S. Lowe Company.

Bingo debuted in 1930 and by 1934 there were an estimated 10,000 bingo games a week in churches and recreation centers across the country.

According to Lowe, the largest bingo game in history was played in New York's Teaneck Armory with 60,000 players — with 10,000 being turned away at the door.

University of Columbia mathematics professor Carl Leffler is reported to have gone insane after coming up with 6,000 bingo cards with non-repeating number groups.

There are 1,474,200 unique bingo cards possible.

The first bingo game to raise money was played at a church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

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