NEW AGE: The integration of technology has seen bingo ride another wave of popularity.
NEW AGE: The integration of technology has seen bingo ride another wave of popularity.

It’s on for young and old at bingo

IT’S a game that used to be synonymous with blue rinses and knitted cardigans, but bingo is back – and not just for the oldies.

Technology has brought bingo back to life and is engaging younger players as they discover the fun pastime that dates from the Middle Ages.

Bingo Sales Group chairman Dennis Lever said the game had had its ups and downs in history but right now was riding another wave of popularity.

“They used to draw the numbers out of a barrel, but in the 1980s to 90s it morphed into electronic number generation systems,” Mr Lever said.

“Then in the last 10 years it has morphed even further and now we’ve got hand-held tablets and fancy graphics which has improved the game.

“The tablets have attracted younger people but the older ones have taken to the tablets like you wouldn’t believe – they’re right into it.”

So just where did this game of numbers originate and how did it get into our clubs?

“It goes back to the Middle Ages where they used to play in a casual environment,” Mr Lever said.

“You’d see people sitting around with dogs and chickens in the background using pieces of corn to mark off their numbers.

“I know that because we had a painting of it in our office.”

The game got a second wind during the Second World War when the armed forces played it under the name of “tombola”.

“Then there was a much bigger revival in the UK when all the picture theatres went broke in the 1950s,” Mr Lever said.

“They took bingo into the theatres because they weren’t being used for movies.

“That’s the sort of bingo we have evolved from here in Australia.”

Bingo was played illegally in amusement tents before it was legalised in Queensland in 1972.

Now bingo is mostly played in licensed clubs across the nation.

“They’ve got the right facilities and this way there’s a restaurant and bar and whatever the players need,” Mr Lever said.

As for where bingo is heading, Mr Lever’s guess is as good as yours, but he did say there was a common misconception that needed to be rectified.

“It used to be a hall filled with smoke and people played for groceries so people still think that’s what it is about,” he said.

“They don’t realise it’s held in really nice environments, it’s a safe place, you can’t lose too much money and you have a very good chance at winning something.”

Bingo is commonly used for fundraising events in local communities, giving back to sporting and charitable bodies.

About 4% of the Australian population plays bingo, but Mr Lever hopes the integration of technology and great prizes on offer today would boost that up to 10% in the near future.

“Bingo is a survivor; it’s not going anywhere,” he said.

Georja Ryan


GET on board the NewsMail’s latest competition!

Find your four-game bingo card inside the paper this Friday and Saturday and be in the running to win a great prize every week including: $1000 fuel voucher, $1000 Visa debit card, $1000 travel voucher and a $1500 grocery voucher.

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Click here for more information and stay tuned for more tricks and tips on how to play this coming week.

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