While the game of bingo can trace its origins back to the European lottery of the Middle Ages, it wasn’t until the 1920’s, when the game reached the shores of the United States, that the idea of bingo as we know it today really took off. A salesman, Edwin Lowe, saw the game, then known as Beano, being played in a traveling carnival in Atlanta and immediately adopted the idea for a social game to play with his friends in New York. In fact, urban legend has it that it was one of Lowe’s friends who unwittingly changed the name of the game from Beano to Bingo!
Lowe’s friends and associates were so enamored with bingo, that it wasn’t long before the game was being produced in commercial quantities and became a wildly popular form of entertainment from the 1940’s onwards.
The American version of bingo differs to the version played in the United Kingdom, mainly because of the number of balls used. While the UK uses a 90 ball bingo version, US players prefer 75 ball bingo.
Because each US state has its own legislation regarding gambling, the availability of bingo and the prizes offered differ from state to state.
In the United States, the game is mainly offered as a form of revenue for churches and charity organizations. While some of these organizations offer games for modest stakes, others run larger coverall games or progressive jackpots throughout an evening, leading to larger prizes being paid out.
As a commercial venture in the United States, the game is offered in Nevada casinos and Native American bingo halls throughout the country. These Native American halls, usually situated in the same locations as tribal casinos, offer larger stakes than charity casinos, and may even link progressive jackpot games between multiple bingo halls of the same group – making them a more viable option for players looking for bigger wins.
The introduction of online gambling saw the game of bingo moving from offline to online gambling sites that also offered bingo as a playing option. Suddenly, players could access virtual halls from the comfort of their own homes and enjoy games, patterns and prizes for stakes ranging from a few cents to several dollars. This freedom of choice, and the wide variety available, led to a surge in popularity of online bingo, and saw the creation of sites such as USA Bingo and Bingo Day.
Unfortunately, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that was passed in the United States in 2006 to prevent the transfer of funds between US citizens and financial institutions, stifled the online bingo industry and saw several large companies leave the scene in fear of being prosecuted by US authorities.
However, US online bingo fans can still find a significant number of great bingo sites to play at, which offer easy payment options and bingo variations to suit US players.
As the US political landscape shifts, there are more and more calls to change the current controversial online gambling legislation, and when changes are made, it is believed that online bingo will become even more popular than it is today.
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