The history of bingo is just as colorful as the game itself. You would not believe it if you were told that this game has been played in the world in some form or the other for more than 500 years. It began as a mere lottery game somewhere in Europe. Oldest records of bingo date to the early 1500s where this game was being played as of Lo Giuoco del Lotto D'Italia. This was the crudest form of the game, which over the next century entered other European countries. In the 1700s, bingo flourished in France. The Frenchmen took over bingo in its lottery form from Italy and renamed it as Le Lotto. This was an early form of bingo that was played with lottery cards that were quite similar to playing cards.
Over the next two centuries, bingo reinforced its popularity in the European continent. It became very popular in Germany next, where it was used mainly for educational purposes than for entertainment. It was used not just in the form of numbers but also in various other forms such as spelling, animals, etc. to make children more interested in what they were learning.
Bingo would never have become popular in America if a keen but failing businessman named Edwin S. Lowe had not noticed some people playing it at a carnival in Atlanta, Georgia. The year was 1929, the throes of the Great Depression, and Edwin S. Lowe's business was failing badly. The bingo version that Lowe saw was being played with dried beans. Players were putting dried beans on the numbers printed on cardboard sheets as they were called out. If a person would win, he or she would yell out "Beano"! This game was evidently very entertaining to the players because the carnival attendant had to practically kick them out when it was time to shut down.
The game remained in Lowe's mind and so did the excited frenzy of the players. He took the concept to New York with him and retailed the game in his own way. He also used to conduct parties in his own home for his friends where they would play Beano. Tradition says that during one such game, a friend yelled out "Bingo" instead of "Beano" and the name stuck. This is how the American Beano came into existence, while the European versions are still known as Lotto. Asia and Australia are very much into this game too, where it is known as Housie.
The current trend of bingo is to play online. It is definitely a big business over the Internet, with most sites such as Virgin Games Bingo, Paddy Power, Prime Time Bingo, Party Bingo and such giving out $1,000 in prizes every single day, or even hour. With the immense popularity that online bingo has achieved in the 21st century, it is undeniable that bingo is one of the largest game businesses of the world.