The history of bingo can be traced back as far as the 1500s in Italy. At that time, it was a state-run game called “Lo Gioco del Lotto d'Italia,” which translates loosely to “The Italian Lottery Game.” The game is still active in Italy, though it has taken a few breaks over the years. Originally, the cards contained 9x3 grids, and the caller would pull wooden chips with numbers from a cloth bag. It wasn’t really picked up by other countries for over 100 years, until France joined in. After that, it spread throughout Europe. In the US, it was commonly called Beano, because players used dried beans rather than chips to mark their cards. A Polish-born immigrant by the name of Edwin S. Lowe enjoyed the game so much that he routinely held competitions with his friends. During one of these games, an excited player called out “Bingo!” instead of “Beano,” and Mr. Lowe ran with it. During the 1930s it spread like wildfire throughout the US and has remained popular throughout the world ever since. On a side note, Lowe wasn’t a one-hit-wonder. He went on to release the game Yahtzee as well. Bingo, however, was picked up mostly as a fundraiser game, and was later integrated into casinos. There is no clear indication which online casino was the first to host bingo games, but it appears to have started up at several during the mid-1990s, just as Internet gambling was taking root. Bingo Zone, which is still in operation today, does not claim to be the first, but they do say they have been running the longest and have been in operation since 1996. Types of Bingo Games There are two main types of bingo played online. Most of the world plays something that more-closely resembles the original Lo Gioco del Lotto d'Italia. They use cards with 9x3 grids and 90 balls. Because America never really caught on to the classic version, they tend to play more on a 5x5 card with 75 balls. Occasionally, some casinos will also offer a 30-ball game played on a 3x3 card or an 80-ball game played on a 4x4 card. Winning usually begins by a player filling in a full line, either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. However, many games continue after the initial win, and allow a person to take second-place by creating an “L” shape or filling in the four boxes on the upper right, which is called a postage stamp. Other games may continue and declare an additional winner for the first person to fill in every space, also known as a blackout. Some online casinos will create their own variants of the game, though, and will have unusual combinations needed to win, a different number of balls, or an alternate card layout. The Environment Online bingo is played on hundreds, if not thousands, of websites. Some offer free or fun play, while others require cash. Quite often, a software developer creates a white-label bingo hall. In these cases, the game is played on their servers and players from multiple websites and casinos all compete for a single prize. Most of the time, there will also be a chat feature embedded in the game, so players can talk to one another, even across various websites. In these cases, there is a chat moderator, monitor, or host, who assists players with questions and helps to keep the atmosphere friendly. One of the more recent trends in online bingo halls is the addition of side games. These are usually slots, scratch cards, or other quick-play games, which can fill the short gaps between live bingo gameplay. Some also offer video chat as well. Where and How to Play There is a ton of great sites out there, and you’ll have to hop around a bit until you find the one that’s right for you. If you enjoy the social aspect of it, it will probably be more a matter of finding a group of people who share your sense of humor or have similar attitudes. Not all online bingo games are created equally, though, so it’s a good idea to check each site’s reputation and rules before you play. You’ll also need to register for an account. Some of the more reputable websites which offer bingo include: 32Red Bingo (Microgaming Software) BingoCams (with proprietary software) GoldRun Casino (with Holland Power Gaming software) Stargames (Greentube/Novomatic) Playing bingo online is a little different than playing in real life. You’ll probably have a tougher time keeping up at first, especially if your Internet connection is slow. It may also feel a bit unnatural to be chatting during the game, but most people find that they enjoy it after a while. There are also likely to be way more players in each game than you’re accustomed to. The upside to this is that the winnings are will probably be higher than anything you’ve seen at a land-based casino.