What is bingo?

officially, the dictionary definition of bingo is “a game in which players mark off numbers on cards as the numbers are drawn randomly by the caller, the winner being the first person to mark off all their numbers”. But, as with so much, it’s more nuanced than that. 

Nowadays, there are so many different types of bingo and the game as a whole has undergone a huge popularity boom in recent years – try Fishing Frenzy. 

First of all, bingo has a really interesting history. It originated in Renaissance Italy as “il gioco”, which translates simply as “the game”. 

Afterward, it spread across Europe, and because of its popularity, migrated to the New World in the 19th Century. 

Who thought of the name “bingo”? 

Initially, when bingo first arrived in America, it was known as “Beano”. This was probably because it was played using beans instead of real money, as gambling was illegal. 

As with so much in history, it owes its name to a happy accident. A woman, delighted at having won the game, excitedly yelled “bingo” instead of “beano”, and the rest is history. 

Then, a Columbia University mathematics professor, Carl Leffler, decided that this was a good opportunity to make money, so helped to develop the modern bingo card. By 1930, Leffler had invented 6000 different bingo cards. 

Different forms of bingo 


As a species, we’re pretty inventive. Just look around you at all the man-made commodities you have, designed to make your life either easier or more entertaining. Bingo is no different. 

There are now many forms of variant bingo games you can play in-house and online. These may range from tangents of the original game, like 90-ball bingo, 80-ball bing,o, and 75-ball bingo – or even totally different avenues based on a theme.

There’s Slingo, a mixture of slots games and bingo, and Bongo Bingo, which marries together being on an 18-30 holiday in the Balearics with bingo. You certainly can’t say that there’s just not a form of bingo out there that you’re interested in. 

Bingo – is it a science? 

For all its fun, bingo is actually a form of advanced mathematics, helping to teach us more about probability and the concept of randomness.

In addition to this, bingo has been scientifically proven to aid the brain’s capacity to solve problems, which is why it is often used in recall and recognition tasks.

Clearly, it didn’t take long for people to start thinking that it would be a good idea to use these advantages in educational fields. After all, tests show that children who play types of bingo regularly are more likely to find logical solutions to complex problems.

This includes algebra, multiplication, and even division. It’s hardly a surprise that bingo has been implemented into schools’ curriculums all over the world. 

This brings us back to the original question of what is bingo? Is it entertainment? Is it educational? Is it gambling? Is it a science?

Bingo is all these things, and more. Whilst it entertains us and gives us the opportunity to win substantial monetary prizes, there’s also a weight of history behind it, as well as giving our brains a much-needed work-out!