The history of bingo in Ireland

The history of bingo in Ireland

Brought to you by The Social Family

As one of the UK’s most treasured games to make it through history, Bingo is still as widely popular today as it was back in the mid 20thcentury. 

Whether you’re heading out to the local social club for a game with friends, or you’re curled up on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate in one hand and your IPad in the other, there’s not many people who would refuse the chance to play a fun game of bingo, and win a cash prize too.

So how has it remained so popular?

Where it all began

Bingo originally began as a sort of lottery in Italy in 1530. The game was usually played every Saturday and the players used cards with a line of number squares on, the winning numbers would then be drawn out of a sack. The game quickly grew in popularity and by the late 1770’s the game had been introduced to France where it was known as ‘Le Lotto’. However this version of the game was reserved for wealthy French gentleman and women and the lower classes were not usually able to participate.

The game also spread to Germany, however rather than being used as a lotterly type game, the Germans used it as a child’s game to help students to learn maths, spellings and history.

Across the pond, the game was known as Beano and became a traditional country fair game where a dealer would select numbered discs from a cigar box and players would mark them off their card with beans. The winner would then shout Beano!

Bingo in Ireland

Ireland has long been a nation of keen gamblers in which the Irish spend around 5 Billion Euros each year on various sports and betting games. With a long history in gambling and gaming, archaeologists have  since discovered gaming pieces such as dice and glass beads across the land with evidence suggesting that board games were brought across from Mainland Europe, giving the Irish people exciting new ways to beat the odds.

The Catholic Church introduced bingo in Ireland in the 1960’s and since then it grew in popularity with an explosion of bingo halls following shortly behind. Bingo was used as a form of socialising across Ireland, much in the same way as the wider UK, in which it provided a fun night out where people got together to smoke, chat and perhaps win some cash.

What differentiates the Irish bingo scene from that of Mainland Britain?

With the rising popularity of online bingo since the early 2000’s, many bingo halls throughout the UK began to decline in popularity and slowly but surely they started to close down. However across the Irish Sea, the digitalisation of Bingo has not had the same damaging effect on Irish bingo venues as it has throughout the UK. In fact traditional bingo venues in Ireland seem to be just as popular today as they were back in the 1960’s with a few minor changes gearing them up for the younger generations to join in the fun.

The changing face of Irish bingo venues

Whilst Irish bingo venues have remained highly popular since they began popping up in the mid 20thcentury, there have been a few changes in order to maintain the appeal of such a traditional game.

Some may say that bingo in Ireland is slightly more hipster than its counterparts with many venues catering to the LGBT communities. These venues have added a shot of colour to the halls and host many gay and drag queen nights. Venues such as the Shirley Temple Bar and The George Night Club have been running for more than 20 years!

In addition to catering to the different communities of Ireland, with the introduction of the smoking ban inside public places, the industry had to again get rather creative in an attempt to prevent numbers from declining. To counter this new law, drive in bingo became a new rage across Ireland and is now incredibly popular. All that is required of players is that they drive in, turn off their engine and buy a bingo book. If they get a line or house, players must beep their horn and an attendee will come and hand the cash straight through the window.

This form of drive in bingo has really taken off with it becoming a day event for a lot of people within Ireland. People will drive in and relax from the comfort of their cars and without having to worry and parking as they sit chatting to friends and family over the course of several hours whilst enjoying a few games of bingo. Whilst the most popular drive- in bingo venue is located not far from Dublin in County Meath, people from nearby counties are now taking day trips to the venue as it continues to rise in popularity.

The competition is rife

Whilst physical bingo venues continue to be popular in Ireland, online platforms are just as popular with many people choosing to play from the comfort of their own home. This demand has enabled more and more bingo operators to set up shop online, but with so many, it’s become a battle to get customers and new and innovative promotions are constantly being created to lure in new players.

This makes it incredibly difficult for player to choose which online venue to invest in. However this has opened up opportunities for bingo affiliates to help customers choose the right platform. Sites such as BingoPort offer customers a range of handy tools from star rating systems to comprehensive reviews which enable them to make a decision on which platform is right for them.

What does the future look like?

The future of bingo in Ireland looks bright! With many venues now gearing up towards millennia’s, bingo is becoming increasingly fun in which you’re much more likely to see the local student crowd at a bingo venue now than you are the local retired bunch.