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Bonus & Keno Games : Origins of Bingo

By Joni Hawk

Level: May 14th 2007
Dear Mark, Please can you tell me when and where did the game of Bingo originate? Was it not called Housey Housey years ago? Yvonne B.
Sometimes called beano, the corn game, and yes, Yvonne, even Housey-Housey; credit the Italians for being the inventors of Bingo.

The game was first called "Lo Giuoco del Lotto D' Italia," but when the French got hold of it in the late 1770's, they shortened the name to "Le Lotto." Initially Le Lotto was played strictly amongst opulent French aristocrats. I’ll bet those upper-clusters couldn’t handle the action my Mom managed; at least a dozen cards at once.

An etymologist I’m not, but my belief is that the development of the word Housey-Housey can be traced to England as that was what the popular game was called amongst seafaring British troops during both World War I and World War II. Our boys much preferred dice and a blanket, and as my Uncle once said, dice games probably kept more soldiers on their knees than did any Chaplain.

Edwin S. Lowe, a traveling salesman who accidentally chanced upon the game at a carnival in Atlanta in 1929, is credited for making the game popular, but the word Bingo itself, suggesting a bell’s ring, was added a bit prior in 1925 to announce a win.
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