A look at the history of bingo in the UK

Brits have always loved a game of bingo. With millions playing daily, whether in bingo halls or online, it’s fair to say that we’re a nation of bingo lovers. The game didn’t originate here though and has a history that spans many decades and continents.

Since bingo is such a big part of British culture, we take a look at the history of bingo in the UK and how it came to be such a prominent fixture in the gambling scene.

Origins of bingo

It’s said that bingo first came to Britain in the 1800s but the origins of the game date as far back as 1530, when it was called “Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia”. In the late 1770s, the game, now known as “Le Lotto”, made its way to France and was primarily enjoyed by the French aristocracy.

At the start of the 20th century, early versions of modern bingo were played at carnivals and fairs in the United States and the UK. However, in the 1960s, we saw a significant transformation to bingo as a result of changes in gambling laws. The Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 legalised betting and allowed for commercial bingo clubs to flourish.

The golden age of bingo halls

Bingo’s heyday was without a doubt in the 1960s and 70s, a period often referred to as the golden age of bingo halls. These halls began cropping up in areas like Brighton, Blackpool, and London, becoming popular hubs – some of which are still open to this day.

The opportunity for social interaction coupled with the anticipation and convenience of the game made bingo a popular choice. At their peak, there were more than 600 bingo clubs across the UK.

The digital revolution

The growth of the internet in the late 1990s and early 2000s led to a decline in the popularity of bingo. With attention being focused on technological advancements, bingo halls across the country began to close down.

However, the introduction of online bingo brought a new dimension to the beloved game. Online bingo sites offered players the choice to play from their homes and featured a variety of different games, including 30-ball, 75-ball, and 90-ball.

These online sites didn’t forego the social element that people loved about bingo either, enabling players to talk to others in chat rooms. To this day, you can still play bingo online and there are various sites to choose from, with user-friendly mobile apps and easy-to-navigate websites.

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