Nearly everyone who grew up during a certain part of the late 20th century is familiar with Bingo. The game, which first came to the U.S. in the 1930s, started with paper cards sporting 24 numbered squares arranged in five rows and five columns — plus that enticing “free space” in the middle which seems to promise a short cut to riches! Bingo’s making a comeback today thanks to Bingo games on mobile devices. National Bingo Day, on June 27, celebrates America’s love of Bingo. Read on for a little nostalgia and a look at where Bingo’s headed next.
National Bingo Day timeline
Bingo goes mobile
Like thousands of other games, Bingo has found a home on mobile devices — allowing players to enjoy Bingo around the clock from the palm of their hand.
A Seattle nonprofit supporting people with AIDS began staging Bingo games to raise funds. Drag queens dressed as nuns hosted the event — which proved enormously successful.
Toymaker Edwin Lowe discovered people playing a game called Beano at a carnival outside Atlanta. Competitors used dried beans, a rubber stamp, and cardboard sheets. Lowe, whose company went on to produce the dice game, Yahtzee, helped Bingo gain nationwide attention. Lowe apparently renamed it after overhearing someone accidentally yell "Bingo" instead of "Beano."
This French game gently pushed Bingo into the modern era by featuring a card with 27 numbers (nine columns and three rows). The numbers, at the time, ranged from one to 90. Only wealthy people played at first, but the game soon spread across the country.
"Il Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia"
Although this sounds like an amazing dessert, it's actually an Italian lottery game. Italy's government still sponsors weekly games and uses the proceeds to fund public projects.
National Bingo Day Activities
Play on your phone
Not surprisingly, Bingo has made a smooth transition to the digital world. Apps make it easy to play anytime and compete against your friends. You can also scream, "Bingo," really loud on National Bingo Day — although the neighbors might get a little puzzled.
Find a local game
Big cities and small towns throughout the U.S. still feature Bingo events. Check online for dates and times. There are plenty of new variations and winning card patterns to keep things interesting. Bingo has come a long way from straight lines.
If you can't make new friends during a raucous Bingo gathering, you're not trying hard enough. Barriers come down quickly when there's real money at stake. And yes, Bingo marriages happen all the time.
5 Winning Bingo Patterns We Never Considered
Spaces include the top row — plus a diagonal row from the upper right corner to the lower left corner.
This requires either the middle row or column — plus two mini-diagonals to form the shape of an arrow (nine squares in all).
This one can go quickly. Cover the four corners and you win.
Thirteen spaces required — all nine inner squares plus the four corners. This would be fun if your pieces lit up.
Get set for a long evening. You'll need to cover every square on the card. Hint: play this one last.
Why We Love National Bingo Day
Easy to play
No complex rules here. Basically, if you can count, you can play Bingo. Cards display 24 numbers ranging from 1 through 75. If the host calls out the numbers fitting a certain pattern on your card — you scream "Bingo!" and proceed to collect your prize.
Bingo tends to turn into one big party. Players make friends quickly and enjoy the camaraderie. It's a stress-free way to spend time and have fun!
No age limit
Bingo games attract people of all ages and remain extremely popular among seniors. You don't need nerves of steel or a compelling "poker face" to have a successful Bingo experience.
National Bingo Day dates