In the UK at least, there are early records of bingo and lottery type games involving the selection of random numbers and the allocation of prizes as a result. Some of the earliest records of these games record games similar to bingo that were just called other things like ‘housey housey’, ‘tombola’ and ‘lotto’. These records trace bingo back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth the 1st in the 16th and 17th centuries. At this time bingo was played by all people rich and poor, but in different forms. For example poor English peasants played the game in pubs and bars and this form of the game was known as ‘shove groat’, whereas the same game was played by rich English people at the same time, albeit in more sophisticated surroundings.
Like alcohol in the USA, gaming in Britain was subject to strict regulation throughout the years and this has affected the game of bingo and how popular it was. In the Puritan era in the UK the game of bingo was severely restricted, but when Charles the 2nd was re-throned in the 17th century the game of bingo was a hugely popular endeavor among all people, rich and poor. Businesses were operated involving bingo type games and these were very profitable. When the Mayor of London passed a law preventing working women from gambling with dice, they found a way around this problem, by using wheels with numbers to gamble. This just goes to show that bingo is addictive, even if banned by the government. Gladly we don’t suffer the same restrictions today, and can play until our heart’s content.
In the 18th century in the UK, the government was using bingo type games as a means of raising money, through State lotteries. Tickets for these types of games were very expensive, and the poorer niches of society invented their own forms of the game so that they could play too. These were called ‘penny lotteries’ and ‘little goes’ amongst other things.
In the 18th century bingo and bingo type games were played all over the world, in places like Mexico, Malta and by the Royal Navy in various countries. In more modern times the game of bingo is massively popular and can be played over the internet with big and small bingo brands, and in bingo halls throughout the UK.