Bingo was invented in Italy in the early part of the 16th Century, then called “Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia”, so although it is one of Britain’s most loved games – and indeed traditions – it was by no means invented in the UK. However, as the popularity of the game has furthered, not only in bingo halls nationwide but also through the advent of online bingo, as Brits have sought to seek a warmer life away from these shores they have taken Bingo with them.
With its burgeoning tourist trade in the early 1990s, Bulgaria drafted gambling regulations for the first time to accommodate its visitors. Previous to this, gambling in casinos and bingo halls had been illegal. Now, after the creation of additional regulations in 1998 and Bulgaria’s entry into the European Union in 2007, which has further developed the country’s gambling and gamin industry, there is a bingo hall in most towns.
Bingo has even found its way to Portugal, where all gambling is subject to approval by the government. This is not always guaranteed, as European Law permits any states right to curb gambling activity if it is an attempt to curtail criminal activity. For this reason bingo halls require special licenses, but the demand for bingo from British expats has meant that the provision of bingo halls was inevitable, albeit on a much smaller scale than in Bulgaria.
Along the River Tagus into Spain, bingo has been played regularly since its expansion from Italy spread through France and down to the Iberian peninsula. However, the recent economic downturn hit Spain particularly hard, meaning a decline of 9% in bingo admissions amongst Spanish bingo hall visitors. However, amongst expat communities the game has flourished, particularly around peak season when Brits fly out to visit friends and family.
Brits have also helped to preserve their well-loved game of bingo in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, where gambling was not legalised until 1977 but has burgeoned ever since. The spread of online bingo worldwide has also helped keep the game going. When it comes to taking a slice of their lives abroad, residents of the UK know what it is that reminds them of home.