BLOG: Is 2020 the year you give bingo a go?

Emma Gwynne, LinkAge Network’s Community Development Co-ordinator for South Bristol, has a few thoughts on bingo…

On my travels around South Bristol community groups there’s one thing that many people I meet have in common, and that’s their love of bingo! 

I’ve seen so much joy, heard loads of laughter and experienced the community coming together in many different places, all in the name of this unassuming, easy-to-play game.

One community worker recently reported that bingo was the catalyst to start to heal many years-old rifts between residents in a sheltered accommodation.   

So what is it that makes bingo such a crowd-pleaser? As a game of both chance and skill, it’s fully inclusive – you can be an absolute beginner or a seasoned professional – anyone can be a winner! 

Its simplicity is its appeal, defying barriers of language, gender, culture, class and age – it is a true equalising game. Bingo, by its very nature, brings people together: you play in a group, there’s always something to talk about, and it has a competitive edge that keeps things interesting!

You may not know that bingo is international in its origins – it’s said to have first appeared in Italy in the 1500s and was then taken up by the French aristocracy. By the 1800s German schoolteachers were using it to help children learn their times tables. And it earned its name and winner’s call of ‘bingo!’ in 1920s America.

One thing that might surprise you: in bingo’s heyday of the mid-1960s there were 14 million registered bingo players in Britain, with 150,000 people a day visiting a local hall – making it a more popular pastime than watching football!

So if the thought of a game makes you frown, I challenge you to give it a go this New Year, find a club near you and let’s all unite for the love of bingo!


Image by By Eric S. Garst, via Wikimedia Commons