Beano – The Mother of modern day Bingo

The history of bingo can be traced right back to the 1530s when the game was played by wealthy people in Italy. The modern day game, played with cards, owes its routes to a version first seen in county fairs in the United States of America. The game was known as Beano, used cards and a similar format to current day bingo and players would shout “beano” once their card was complete.

How Beano came about

Edwin S. Lowe is the man credited with creating the first mass produced game of Beano. He himself stumbled across the game at a county fair on a long drive to Jacksonville, where he was due for a business meeting the very next day. Lowe decided to stop at the fair where he witnessed the game for the first time. 

The ‘Pitchman’, or caller as he would be known today, drew numbered wooded discs from a beaten up cigar box. The players would then scan their cards and mark off any matching numbers by placing a dried bean on it. The game would conclude, and a winner created, if the card was completed and the player shouting ‘Beano’. 

Lowe was amazed at the excitement of the crowd, he noted, “I couldn’t get a seat. But while I was waiting around, I noticed that the players were practically addicted to the game. The picthman wanted to close up, but every time he said, “This is the last game’, nobody moved. When he finally closed at 3:00 a.m. he had to chase them out.”

Lowe returned to New York and immediately created his own prototype game, which he tested out on friends and relatives. During one energetic game it is believed that one young lady mistakingly blustered out the word ‘bingo’ instead on Beano. The word stuck and Lowe went on to produce commercially available games using the bingo branding. 

Historical References to Beano

Leave a Reply