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The Early History of Bingo

There are not that many gambling games that can trace their roots directly to the sixteenth century. The early history of Bingo, however, is one of those games that can trace their roots that far back. Bingo is one of the forms of a lottery, and is directly descended from the Italian lottery game, Lo Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia.

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Italian Bingo

In 1530, Italy was united. At this time, the Italian National Lottery, Lo Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia was formed. Since its inception, the Italian lottery has been held, almost continually without a break, once a week. Nowadays, the Italian lottery is still held on a weekly basis. It has become an indispensable source of income to the Italian government, as each year, more than seventy-five million dollars are contributed to the country's yearly budget.

The French intelligentsia had become interested in Le Lotto in 1788. News reports said that it had captured the intelligentsia's fancy. The classic Lotto version was developed in this time period. The lottery card was divided into nine vertical rows and three horizontal rows. The vertical rows had random numbers between one through ten in the first row, eleven through twenty in the second vertical row, and twenty-one through thirty in the third row, and so on up until all the vertical rows were filled with numbers up to ninety. The three horizontal rows contained four blank squares and five numbered squares. These numbers and squares were randomly arranged. Every single Lotto card was different.

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Bingo Develops

Tokens that were numbered from one to ninety, and a cloth bag, were the only other thing needed to play the game. Each player was randomly given a single Lotto card. The caller drew one of the small numbered wooden tokens (or chips) from a cloth bag. The caller called out the number so all could hear, and players would cover the number if it showed on their Lotto card. Numbers continued to be called until a player had covered a horizontal row. The player holding the card with the first horizontal row covered was the winner.

The game spread quickly around Europe and even educational Lotto games became very popular in the 1800s. In the 1850s, a German Lotto game was created that taught multiplication tables to children. Apart from the multiplication table Lotto game, other games for children included Historical Lotto, Spelling Lotto and Animal Lotto.

Apart from the well-known Bingo game played by many adults the world over, Lotto is still used for fun and educational purposes in the children's toy and game market. A Lotto game featuring Muppets from Sesame Street appear on a game sold by Milton Bradley. The game has been designed for play by children from ages three to six years old. By playing this game, children are given the opportunity to learn how to recognize numbers and learn to count, while still having fun. This Lotto game is a very effective method of education learned from the 1800s.