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Bingo Myths – Fact Or Fiction?

05.09.2012 | Antoan Tok

Bingo is a simple game that is enjoyed the world over, both in its traditional form and in virtual form at gaming websites such as Jackpotjoy. Over the years, a kind of weird mythology has evolved around the popular pastime of bingo, and this has been aided and abetted in recent years by the growth of the internet. So, just for fun, we have trawled the internet for ‘weird bingo facts’ in order to uncover some of the most nonsensical claims. Proceed at your own risk!

The name ‘bingo’ started as a running joke
Likelihood rating: 6/10

We have Wikipedia to thank for this little gem. Apparently, the game of bingo was known as ‘beano’ as far back as the 18th century, and it was only re-named as ‘bingo’ after somebody excitedly shouted out that word by accident, and it caused such a stir that it became a running joke. However, there are a couple of holes in this story. Firstly, it is hard to imagine that somebody shouting out ‘bingo’ instead of ‘beano’ would really be funny enough to catch on in this way. You can test this out by typing ‘beano’ into the chat window on Jackpotjoy next time you score a win to see if anyone can even muster a ‘lol’. Secondly, the same Wikipedia page claims that the first recorded use of the word ‘bingo’ was in 16th-century Italy, in relation to the lottery game that is considered to be bingo’s ancestor, Lo Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia. So while there is little doubt that the game was once called ‘beano’, the story about how it came to be called ‘bingo’ seems a little far-fetched.

Inventing bingo cards drove Carl Leffler insane
Likelihood rating: 3/10

Columbia University maths professor Carl Leffler is widely held to be the father of the modern game. His name enters the bingo story when he was hired by New York toy salesman Edwin S. Lowe to create a large number of unique number combinations in order to prevent duplicate cards, which were leading to expensive multiple payouts for bingo halls. Leffler responded by developing no less than 6,000 number combinations for the game, which are still in use today in bingo halls and at websites such as Jackpotjoy. According to legend (or, more accurately, unsubstantiated internet posts), this process drove him insane. While the sheer drudgery of this task could might just have triggered some kind of psychosis in Leffler, it seems unlikely that such an eminent professor could be sent into a downwards spiral by such an apparently simple task – especially given that he managed to complete it successfully within a year. And if he did go insane (a claim that is not backed up with any evidence), then it is unlikely that this single process was the only contributing factor. At most, it may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.


Margaret and Joe are the luckiest bingo names
Likelihood rating 4/10

There is no denying it – surveys make for great content. A flick through any newspaper will reveal a whole host of articles that are based on surveys. If you are printing the results of a survey in a newspaper, then you are obliged to do a little bit of fact-checking, or at least refer to the organisation that carried out the survey. However, if you are publishing anonymous articles on the internet, you can cut through all this red tape and just make things up. Then, your articles will be re-written by other writers, and before you know it your fictional survey results have been published hundreds of times! Now, it could be that an exhaustive census of bingo players has been undertaken, and that Margaret and Joe really are the most common names for bingo winners. However, if this was the case then you would expect to be able to find at least one reference on the web that gave details of who carried out this survey and when.


Tags: bingo , beano , lottery

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