History of Bingo

Ever wanted to know how bingo became bingo? Here's a small potted history of the game. Follow the selected links for a more in depth analysis of the history of bingo. Bingo is defined as "a game of chance in which each player has one or more cards printed with differently numbered squares on which to place markers when the respective numbers are drawn and announced by a caller. The first player to mark a complete row of numbers is the winner" (Dictionary.com).

What Is The Origin Of Bingo?

If you've searched the web looking for the history of Bingo you'll find that most sites will tell you the same story (most probably derived from online extract taken from "Gambling Times Guide to Bingo" by Roger Snowden). In brief, as it seems churlish to repeat the same story word for word, the game was derived from Lo Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia back in 1530! The game bingo more closely resembles the French game Le Lotto - reported to be being played in 1778 - and this was developed into an educational style game. The term bingo did not arrive until the interruption of Edwin S. Lowe - who after playing a Lotto game called Beano at a carnival introduced it to his friends, one of whom uttered the immortal words 'Bingo' (instead of Beano) and from there a game was born.

From Beano To Bingo

The game developed thanks to Lowe and an insane professor who helped developed the bingo cards, therefore allowing multi player games. Bingo has come a long way since Lowe's Beano days - most certainly in the new technological era with online bingo and interlinked bingo halls (apparently more people go to bingo than the cinema each week in the UK) offering huge cash prize jackpots. The history of online bingo has been quite dramatic. Players can now enjoy 75 ball and 90 ball games online as well as variations on the theme such as roulette, bubble bingo, 30 ball bingo, speed bingo, Deal or No Deal bingo and even poker related bingo!

Mini History of Online Bingo

  • 1996: Cyberbingo.com is launched and is the first online bingo site
  • 2003: Online bingo starts to take off in the UK. Prize Bingo launches.
  • 2004: Think Bingo launched in August 2004 and claims to be the first UK standalone!
  • 2005: Foxy Bingo arrives on the scene
  • 2008: Wink Bingo launches
  • 2009: Cheeky Bingo opens first free bingo for real cash site. Costa Bingo soon follows
  • 2010: Party & Cashcade join together as do 888 and Wink owner's Daub!
  • 2011: A Facebook App becomes a Bingo Site in the shape of Wonder Bingo!
  • 2013: 15 Network is launched. It's finally the year of mobile!
  • 2016: Sun Bingo leaves moves to Virtue Fusion
  • 2017: Foxy Bingo ends affiliate relationships
  • 2017: No deposit bonus offers start to end
  • 2017: First no wagering bingo brands launch
  • 2017: GVC acquire Cozy Games
  • 2017: Sky end affiliate relationships
  • 2018: Clucky Bingo and Bingo House close
  • 2018: UKGC implement tougher rules for advertisers of bingo
  • 2018: MrQ and Buzz Bingo launch
  • 2018: Which Bingo, Bingoport and OhMyBingo are all sold
  • 2018: Foxy, Cheeky & Think Bingo move to new Cozy Games platform
  • 2019: 888 purchase Costa Bingo from JPJ Group
  • 2019: Dragonfish sites close including Loquax Bingo and Prize Bingo
  • 2019: Cozy Games closes over 40 bingo sites
  • 2020: Jumpman add Pragmatic Play Bingo
  • 2021: Gala moves from Playtech to Entain (GVC)
  • 2021: Bgo.com close down
  • 2021: Heart Bingo moves from Gamesys to Pragmatic Play
  • 2021: Tombola is acquired by Flutter (Paddy Power & Betfair)
  • 2021: Dragonfish is sold to Broadway Gaming
  • 2022: Celebrity Endorsements of gambling brands to end from October.
  • 2022: Bet365 Bingo moves from Virtue Fusion to Pragmatic Play
  • 2022: Buzz Bingo launch live bingo product
  • 2022: Paddy Power & Betfair end affiliate relationships
  • 2023: Bingocams closes down after 12 years online
  • 2023: Bingo All Stars closes

The Future Of Online Bingo

When we originally wrote this article we highlighted Facebook Bingo and mobile bingo as the next big things. The latter is most certainly correct whilst social media bingo really didn't do well at all (Bingo Appy and Jackpotjoy's Bingo Friendzy). The intervention of UKGC into online gambling has had an impact that no one could have predicted! We mentioned that the introduction of live bingo callers took the game closer to it's bingo hall roots. However, this has had mixed reviews and whilst there are live shows such as MeccaTV and the live gameshow Mega Ball, live bingo struggled. At least until 2022 when Buzz became the first site to really embrace the live bingo experience. Bingo has failed to crack television! Bingo adverts and TV show sponsorship's remain popular but they're limited by marketing budgets and UKGC rules. Sadly online TV bingo games just don't grab the attention of audiences and we suspect that anything 'gambling related' will never be made now.

Bingo In 2024

In 2018 we said that "it's safe to say that online bingo is struggling under a burden of taxes and too many sites" and that "2019 could well be online bingo's toughest year to date"! Whilst those predictions were right, nothing much has changed to halt what we think is a continual decline. Obviously the pandemic didn't help but the number of brands has fallen - mainly thanks to all the Cozy brands closing - and very few new sites have launched since 2019. Of the sites that have launched or relaunched on another platform, it's hard to think of any that have made any significant impact. Mergers and acquisitions have become popular as has the use of the Pragmatic Play plug-in bingo product which has had some "big wins" thanks to Heart and Bet365. Broadway Gaming's acquisition of Dragonfish hasn't improved that network and in fact it's weaker because pretty much all brands are now very similar. In our view this isn't good for players because there's limited variety, limited promotions and a lack of innovation. Online bingo is currently stagnant and this isn't helped by some operators switching their spotlights firmly on slots.