B — I — N — G — O! Did you know that bingo is more than just a dog’s name-o? It’s true! It’s a fun game that millions of people — kids and adults alike — enjoy every day.

In fact, we bet most of our Wonder Friends have played bingo at least once. Whether you go with your grandmother to a local bingo night at the community center or you play bingo to help learn math facts in school, bingo is a popular way to pass the time.

Bingo has been around a long time. It first became popular in the United States in the early 1900s. However, its roots can be traced back to 1530, when a lottery called “Lo Gioco del Lotto d’Italia” began in Italy.

The Italian lottery spurred other countries to start lotteries, too. Many of these early lottery games featured playing cards with multiple columns and rows marked with numbers. A caller would pull random numbers from a bag, and the first person to fill an entire row would win the lottery.

The modern version of bingo was made popular by a New York toy salesman named Edwin S. Lowe. In the late 1920s, Lowe saw a game called “beano” played at a carnival in Atlanta, Georgia. It was similar to old lottery games and was called “beano” because players used dried beans to mark their cards as numbers were called.

When a player filled an entire row of numbers — horizontal, vertical or diagonal — he or she would shout “Beano!” and win a small prize. Lowe loved the game and introduced it to his friends, one of whom accidentally shouted “Bingo!” upon winning.

From that point on, the game became known as “Lowe’s Bingo” and it spread quickly across the country. Many organizations soon realized the fundraising potential of the game. Players would pay to play bingo, and a portion of the funds would be given out as prizes while the remainder was kept by the organizers.

Today, bingo is played all across the United States. From tiny church basements to huge halls that seat thousands, bingo is a popular game that millions of people enjoy. And your odds of winning are usually much better than winning the lottery. While winning some money is always fun, most bingo players enjoy the social aspect of playing a fun game with their friends.

There are many variations of bingo, from hard cardboard cards with plastic markers to paper cards marked with ink daubers. There are even online bingo games you can play on the Internet.

As a game of chance, bingo is played with randomly-drawn numbers that players must match against numbers on their bingo cards. Most bingo cards feature five columns and five rows with a “free space” in the very middle.

The columns are named after the letters in bingo, and each column has a set of numbers that it can contain. For example, the “B” column will usually contain only the numbers 1-15. When calling out numbers, a caller will say the letter of the column, followed by the number. For example, a caller who draws out the number 3 will call out “B — 3.” If someone only needed “B — 3” to complete a row, you’ll soon hear a loud shout of “Bingo!”

54 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (39 votes, avg. 4.21 out of 5)
  1. Woohoo, I am first!!! Today’s was really cool. I did not know that people go that crazy for bingo. I think tomorrow’s might be about rescue heroes like firefighters police. You are awesome.

    • We think YOU are a really awesome Wonder Friend, too, Owen (and Pooch the dog)! We also think your ideas for what the next Wonder might be are GREAT! We can’t wait to visit Wonderopolis tomorrow to see what we will be WONDERing about!

      In the meantime, here is a past Wonder about some real-life heroes for you to explore: Wonder #343 – Do All Heroes Have Superpowers (http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/do-all-heroes-have-superpowers/)? :-)

  2. Thoughts: The video was fun because the little girl ended up winning BINGO. We noticed the two characters were so worried about winning, they didn’t think of their competition and didn’t have as much fun! We were amused by the attire of the male competitor and really like the expression he made while playing.

    Connections: This reminds a student (Maria) of when she tried to play BINGO with her little brother and sister and the pieces went flying. This reminds a student (Leslie) of how competitive her dad is when playing games.

    Predictions: Do you know 911? Why is it called 911? What’s in a first aid kit? Why is it called the American Red Cross? What do you do in case of an emergency? Do you know how to stop, drop, and roll? Who invented 911?

    • Another AMAZING comment from Mrs. Hess’ Class! We sure do appreciate you guys and are so happy you stopped by Wonderopolis today!

      We think you’re right about the two main characters of the video being so competitive that they forgot to have FUN! We have had some really awesome times playing BINGO with our Wonder Friends here in Wonderopolis. We always remember to have FUN and to WONDER!

      Great predictions for tomorrow’s Wonder, too, you guys! :-)

  3. Our friends love to play bingo.

    We think tomorrow’s wonder of the day will be about life alert, have a plan, get a police to help, or jump out the door.

    • Hello, Ms. Bayko’s Class! Thank you for sharing your SUPER comment with us today! We love to play BINGO, too! Those are some really good guesses for tomorrow’s Wonder…we think it would be very helpful for everyone to WONDER about having a plan in case of an emergency! :-)

  4. We loved learning about the game BINGO today! There were so many interesting facts about this game that we didn’t know. We also thought that the video was hilarious! We love Wonderopolis!

    • We’re so glad you learned some cool new facts about BINGO by exploring today’s Wonder, Mrs. Andrew’s Class! We did, too! We liked that friends of Mr. Lowe used to yell, “Beano!”

      Thank you for sharing your comment with us today and for being SUPER Wonder Friends! :-)

    • YOU WIN, Shaianna! Thanks for checking out today’s Wonder of the Day® about BINGO and for playing along…your comment made our smiles a little bigger this WONDERful Friday! :-)

    • We thought that was an interesting thing to learn about BINGO, too, Alixandra! Thanks for sharing your comment and your enthusiasm with your friends in Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • We’re glad you’re here, ThePieGuy23! We love meeting new Wonder Friends and learning new things together! Thank you for hanging out in Wonderopolis with us today! :-)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend! Thanks for exploring this Wonder of the Day® and for encouraging your classmates in Mrs. Levy’s class to do the same! We’re glad you ALL stopped by to learn a little about playing BINGO with us today! :-)

  5. The video this morning was very funny! In fact, we wanted to watch it twice. Miss Klish said when we have more time she’d show it to us again. We were fascinated with the history of BINGO. We thought it was funny that BINGO was actually called Beano until somebody made a mistake.

    Our guesses for tomorrow’s wonder include: preparing for a blizzard, 911, and Boy Scouts.

    Happy Friday!

    • Happy Friday right back to you guys, Miss Klish’s 5th Grade! We’re happy to hear you liked the video for today’s Wonder! We thought it was funny, too, and enjoyed watching the little girl win BINGO! Do you play BINGO in your classroom to learn math or other cool stuff? We really like your ideas for tomorrow’s Wonder…they ROCK! :-)

    • Bon jour, Mr. Levy’s Class! We think BINGO is LOTS of FUN! It’s a fun way to laugh, play and learn with other Wonder Friends! We rate it a 10++! :-)

    • It makes us happy to hear that you enjoy playing BINGO so much, Jusin! We are SUPER glad you stopped by Wonderopolis today, too! Thank you for being a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

  6. Dear Wonderopolis,

    The video surprised us! It was so funny! It was shocking that one of the adults didn’t win.

    Some of us have been checking out Wonderopolis at home after school or before we come to school. It is contagious. We have shared it with our families and other classrooms!

    Thank you for responding each day! We can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

    Your friends,
    Ms. Uppena’s Third Grade Super Sleuths

    • Hello to Ms. Uppena’s Third Grade Super Sleuths! Thanks so much for stopping by Wonderopolis and for sharing it too! We are glad you are hooked on wondering. What kind of Wonders have you shared with your families?

      We liked the video ending too. That just shows you that anyone can win at bingo! Have you ever played bingo in your classroom? Or maybe you like to play other games – we do! :)

  7. Our guess for tomorrow is police, fire extinguisher, first aid, different ways to reach for help, and basements in tornadoes.

  8. Our guesses for tomorrow are a phone, first aid kit, ears and sight, smoke detector, safety, fire extinguisher, or home security.

    • Hello to Ms. O’Keefe’s 5th Grade Class! Thanks for sharing your guesses – those all sound like good ideas. Check back tomorrow to see! :)

  9. Hi Wonderopolis! I love playing Bingo almost as much as I like winning it, he he. I learned that BINGO was invented accidentally and off of another game. I also learned that it was a game since the 1900’s. I think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about fire extinguishers or possibly a first aid kit. Your friend,

    Evan from Mrs. Chevalier’s class is awesome!!!!

    • Hey Awesome Evan! We are so glad to hear all the WONDERful things you learned about BINGO. Do you ever play BINGO games in Mrs. Chevalier’s class? It could be fun! Thanks for Wondering with us! :)

  10. This was a funny video and the main characters had pay more attention to playing and having fun than competing and worrying. If this happened every day it would be funny at the time but after a while it would get boring.

    • Hey Vanessa! You are right; the main characters were focusing on competing and they forgot to think about other players being able to win! We like playing games more for fun than competition too. What kind of games do you like to play for fun? Have you ever WONDERed about dominoes or card games? Look here: http://wonderopolis.org/category/games-2/ :)

  11. Dear Wonderopolis,
    I love this web site. I like the end when the little girl says b.i.n.g.o. Thank you for crafting this web site. It’s very cool.

    your friend, Maddie Clifton

    • Thank you for visiting Wonderopolis, Maddie! We think that is the best part of the video too! It’s a funny surprise. Have you won BINGO before? Did you play at school or with your family? Have a WONDERful day! :)

  12. BINGO!!! :) :) 7 times in a row, baby! HoHo HaHa HeHe! This video is super duper funny how 2 people lose and 1 young girl wins! I love this video with this awesome music! I love bingo! Do you have any video that is funny? :) :) :) :) :) :) I am in Mrs. Hess’ class and my classmates, too. All my classmates laughed and I know Shalize H.
    You guys rock! :)

    • We LOVE your enthusiasm, Kathy! Thanks for WONDERing about bingo with us, it’s such a fun game! We look forward to WONDERing with you and your WONDERful classmates soon! :)

    • Very cool, DragonBoy, we’re glad you could relate to our bingo Wonder! We hope you will come back to Wonder with us again soon! Have a WONDERful day! :)

  13. Dear wonderopolis,
    That b.i.n.g.o video was funny I loved when the girl stood up and said b.i.n.g.o.

    Have a great day!

    Your friend Tatianna

  14. Dear wonderopolis,
    I loved the video bingo it was funny.
    The part I loved is when the two people looked at each other and the little girl said bingo.

    Have a wonderful day!

    Your friend Tatianna

    • We’re so glad this Wonder video made you giggle, Tatianna! Thanks for describing your favorite part of the Wonder! We hope you’re having a WONDERful Wednesday! :-)

  15. (Ariana) I never knew all of that about bingo. (Javae) I never thought that the little girl would beat the grown people.

    • Hey there, Ariana, Javae, and Keyara! Thank you for sharing your awesome comments about BINGO! We are glad you learned something new about the game, and we’re happy to know that the Wonder video made you laugh, too! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Do you like to play bingo?
  • Where did the name “bingo” come from?
  • Can you make your own custom bingo cards?

Wonder Gallery

866866_1866_2Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Ready to play bingo? Grab a few friends or family members to have fun playing around with one or more of the activities below:

  • All you need are some bingo cards and some markers to play bingo at home. You can use just about anything for markers. For example, coins and beans can be used if you don’t have any actual bingo markers. If you want, you can make your own homemade bingo cards. You can also jump online and print out some Custom Bingo Cards. Just choose a type of card and a theme and you’ll be ready to play all sorts of custom bingo games in no time!
  • If you can’t get anyone to play right now, just jump online and play Bingo on your own. What do you think? Is the online version as much fun as playing in person? Why or why not? Maybe you can interest a friend in joining you to play Bingo online!
  • Can the game of Bingo help you get smarter? You bet it can! Jump online to play Math Bingo and challenge yourself. Don’t take the easy way out. Choose multiplication or division and then select the “hard” level. Have fun being tested. We hope you get a Bingo!

Still Wondering

In ReadWriteThink’s Playing Name Bingo with Chrysanthemum game, the game boards feature children’s names, and children answer questions designed to help them learn more about one another.

Test Your Knowledge

Wonder What’s Next?

The subject of tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is in trouble if it gets a sore throat!

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