75 & 90 Ball Bingo – Where did these games come from?
The popularity of online bingo really has blossomed in recent years. In the UK, there are now over three million online bingo players, and this increasing rise in popularity of bingo sites has seen many of the well-established land based operators move to the internet so as not to lose out. Well-known household names like Mecca and Gala entered the market early on, which certainly helped to boost interest in the internet games, and as technology improves and with the advent of mobile gaming it is expected that this popularity will continue to rise as time goes on.
The internet is good at transcending national boundaries, with one effect being that many sites offer two types of bingo to play – the 90-ball game which originated in the UK commonwealth, and the 75-ball variant which hails from America. But have you ever wondered exactly why there are two varieties and where they originally came from?
So where did the games originate from?
It might surprise you to discover that this simple ball game originated in the 14th century, when it was originally an Italian lottery game called Il Gioco del Lotto d’Italia – which is where the name lotto originally came from. Surprisingly, the very same game still runs every Saturday in Italy, making it the oldest such game in the world.
Instead of a set of balls, the caller would draw numbered chips from a cloth bag. Even hundreds of years ago, that bag would contain 90 numbered chips, and players would mark off numbers on cards which had nine columns and three rows. In other words, 90-ball as we know it has been played in much the same way for over 600 years! Following its popularity in Italy, the game rapidly spread across Europe to France, Germany, and the UK, where the 90-ball version continued to be the norm. It’s not known exactly when the name “bingo” started being used, but the earliest known records date the name back to 1770; and the name and the game have been popular ever since, particularly in the UK.
The American version didn’t originate until the 1920s, when Hugh J. Ward popularised it in Pennsylvania. Surprisingly for a game which was already several hundred years old, Ward actually copyrighted the name and wrote a rule book for it. It’s not entirely certain why he chose to use 75 numbers instead of 90 in his design, but this variety caught on.and 75-ball was born! During the 1930s, these versions spread rapidly across the US, particularly among church groups who realised that it was a good way to raise funds from their congregations. Since then, several variations have sprung up across America and, while the tickets and calling are slightly different, it’s still essentially the same game.
It is amazing to consider that almost all sites run both 90-ball and 75-ball games now with new varieties being launched virtually all the time. So now when you choose to play, you’ll know a little about the background of whichever game you select, and you’ll know that you’re enjoying entertainment which has been a little piece of human culture for hundreds of years!