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Gambling 101

How to Play Bingo

The History of Bingo and How to Play
By Wilson of

Bingo actually got it's start in Italy in 1530. The Italian lottery (as it was referred to back then) consisted of a card full of numbers arranged in rows from 1 through 10, 11-20, 21-30 all the way through to 90. The numbers were printed on little chips that were then tossed into a bag to be drawn. The person who connected a complete horizontal row was determined the winner of the lottery.

The bingo craze took off throughout Europe in the 1800’s and finally made its way to the United States. In 1929 a toy salesman by the name of Edwin Lowe recognized the excitement shared by people who played the game at a carnival and decided to try it out with some of his friends. One of his players yelled out Bingo instead of Beano which is what the carnival game was called, and bingo’s name was born.

By the mid 1930’s, there were an estimated 10,000 bingo games being played weekly. Today it is said that there is more than 90 million dollars spent each week playing the game of bingo in North America. Coupled with the addition of online bingo games, the money invested and won on bingo continues to grow.

How to Play Bingo

The game of bingo hasn’t changed too much from the original version in Italy, but there are a few things you should know before you throw down your money. First, the basic goal in the game of bingo is to be the first player to mark off or identify a specific pattern on a card (usually a straight line) given you have the corresponding numbers.

To begin play you usually have to purchase a bingo card or cards (many bingo houses allow players to play multiple cards for each game). Once you have your cards the game will begin. If you are playing online bingo the rules and procedure for play will obviously be different as you will be required to click on specific games and sometimes the games play out automatically, almost like a keno round. However, in the traditional land-based bingo you simply listen for the bingo-caller to announce the letter and number (B-5, I-22…) and mark your cards appropriately.

Most bingo cards are 5x5 grids with the letter B-I-N-G-O across the top and numbers running down under each letter. In the middle of your card will be a square marked “free space” this space is a bonus space that may used to complete any line.

If you are lucky enough to complete a line make sure you yell out “BINGO!” right away and the game will stop while an official confirms you the winner. If other players yell, declare bingo at the same time you will usually split the pot with them. I remember my mom coming home and telling us how upset she was because she hit a bingo on a $1000 jackpot but had to split it between two or three people.

Again, if you play online bingo the rules may vary but it has become extremely popular and a lot of people enjoy the simplicity of the game. All you really have to remember is to listen well and if you play multiple cards be well rested and make sure you don’t miss marking spot! I missed a bingo once and the rule usually goes like this: If you yell bingo after the caller announces the next number you are out of luck. It happened to me and I lost out on a $100 pot!

Nowaday’s most online bingo sites will allow players to play for free before they bet for real. This is highly recommended. As with any gambling venture, it's always safer to be completely familiar with the process before jumping in. Luck to ya!

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