Lottery: the “Mexican bingo” you need to play


To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re exploring La Lotería, a traditional Mexican board game that’s a staple in this community.

ARIZONA, USA – America’s favorite game of chance is bingo, but south of the Mexican border your luck is tested The Loteria.

Some scream in excitement as they play this popular game that has become a staple in the Aztec country, but others cry as tensions quickly rise.

The Loteria is not an outright board game, but it can quickly become competitive as players mostly play against family members or friends.

For centuries, The Loteria has been passed down from generation to generation. But among families, quick play is part of Mexican culture, as are pan dulce and champurrado.

“I really don’t remember when we first started playing lottery“said Guadalupe Del Pardo, who grew up playing in Mexico.” It’s like being part of the family.

Bingo and The Loteria was from ‘II Gioco del Lotto d’Italia’, an early 16th century Italian game of chance, Dr Gloria Arjona said during a video conference with La Plaza de Cultura y Artes.

Arjona said the game’s popularity spread to Spain and later to “New Spain,” as Mexico was called at the time.

“People were so addicted that the church banned it,” she added. “It was then developed into a family-oriented game. “

In 1887, French entrepreneur Don Clemente Jacques created the “Lotería El Gallo”, the most traditional format of the game played today.

This version includes 54 cards with a series of images and a random number of “tablas” or plates. Each table contains 16 images, four vertical and four horizontal.

Watch the story in Spanish

To play, the deck of cards is shuffled. A person is assigned “El Cantor” or the town crier to draw one card at a time. Traditionally, beans are used as crisps.

When a player gets four chips in a row – the four in the middle, the four corners, or the full card – you win and say Lotería!

“You don’t even have to speak the language, you are literally looking at pictures and sitting on little beans or pebbles on a little piece of paper,” explained Manuel Garcia, who is Del Pardo’s son. “It’s very quick to grasp.

Garcia remembers playing the game when he was about four years old in his hometown of Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Now, as an adult, he still plays with his parents and friends, but also teaches and plays with his own children.

“It’s a great opportunity for the family to share together, to spend time together,” said Del Pardo.

Over the years, The Loteria has been updated to include millennial trends and even memes. It’s now on the clothes. And at a pivotal moment in Arizona, it was remade to make a political statement.

In 2010, when the SB-1070 was passed in Grand Canyon State, it was the broadest and most stringent anti-illegal immigration legislation in the United States, and Annette Sexton-Ruiz, a long-time artist and activist, created new cards with characters and images depicting the controversy.

“It is our duty as artists to let the community know what was going on in our time… to tell what is going on in our society,” Sexton-Ruiz said.

She created one lottery in 2011 and another the following year. Its characters represented political figures from Arizona, objects and events that took place during those years.

For her depiction of the sun, Sexton-Ruiz used a design that a grade 5 Guatemalan girl drew during an art project at a local school.

“I told all the children ‘Paint pictures of the desert, we are going to talk about the desert’ and she drew a picture of her family walking through the desert under the hot, sweaty sun,” she said.

With time, The Loteria is called to continue to evolve, but it is certain that it will remain an essential element of Mexican culture.

“The lottery is a must, no matter how many years go by when we play, because it is a tool that helps to reunite with our families and that everyone, regardless of their age, can play,” Garcia said.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with 12 News by telling community stories from September through October.

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