The Growing Popularity of Bingo in Latin America
News Americas, NY, NY, Thursday. October 28, 2021: Bingo has officially gone global. Since its inception in Europe and its takeover of the UK, the game has won fans across Europe and North America.
In the age of the Internet, it now seems that people in all countries, including those in Latin America, are playing the game. How has unpretentious gambling made such a global impact?
Bingo began life in 16th century Italy as Loto and spread across France to the shores of Great Britain over the next 300 years. There it remained a hobby of the nobility until the 1920s when it found appeal among the working classes.
At the same time, across the Atlantic, bingo arrived in the United States where Americans also found love of the game. The 75-ball variant that was to become the staple there was slightly different from the 90-ball game. balls which was popular in Britain. The British are well known for their love of bingo, and many people still go to traditional bingo halls and play the game online. Bingo halls in the UK are famous for bingo enthusiasts sitting with their heads down and their bingo daubers ready to mark the called numbers. For those new to bingo who don’t know what bingo daubers are, here are the best bingo dauber tips that will help you with your next land bingo game!
Bingo is popular in parts of Europe, Russia, and even Japan, but it wasn’t until the birth of the World Wide Web that it was adopted on a truly global scale. The number of people currently playing online bingo around the world is in the hundreds of millions and the majority of them are women.
The Mexican version of bingo is called Loteria. It arrived in Mexico via Spain and is played with a deck of 54 cards. At first glance, the Loteria seems to have more in common with a card game, but the rules, depending on the region, more closely follow the principles of bingo.
Each of the 54 cards has a different image, a number and a corresponding name underneath. Players receive a scorecard with a selection of cards printed on it, arranged in a grid.
The caller, or cantor in Spanish, will draw a card at random and announce it verbatim or recite a short riddle alluding to his identity. If the card is on a player’s scorecard, it is covered with a cork, bottle stopper, or counter. The winner is the first to complete a successful horizontal or diagonal line on their scorecard and subsequently shout “Loteria! Or “Buena!”.
The rules of the game vary by region, but one thing that remains somewhat consistent is the deck of cards used and their illustrations. Don Clemente’s game ‘Gallo’ has spread across the country and the images now have significant cultural influence.
Guatemala has a tradition of playing bingo on Sundays, usually during holiday periods. “Bingo para el domingo” or Sunday bingo will see the townspeople gather in the parks to play.
Being the largest and most populous nation in the Americas, Brazil, unsurprisingly, has the most brick and mortar bingo halls. At the end of the 20th century, Brazilian law exempted bingo from otherwise prohibited private gambling restrictions. As a result, bingo halls began to open across the country and there are around 600 bingo halls today, especially in the wealthier southern states.
Brazil has strict anti-gambling laws, and the legal space in which bingo operates as an outlier is partly responsible for its popularity. The lottery is another area of Brazilian society where legal gambling is permitted.
Perhaps unique to Brazil in the modern context, is the association of bingo as a pastime for the wealthy. Brazilian bingo halls can come across as opulent places of excess and indulgence – perhaps a throwback to bingo’s roots in the 1500s.
The rest of Latin America
The UK’s relationship with bingo has been tumultuous with great ups and downs where the future of the game seems to be called into question. At present, bingo has seen a great resurgence, aided in large part by the promulgation of online bingo, which in turn has also greatly benefited the real side of the industry.
In Latin countries, where bingo, or one of its variations, is steeped in culture, popularity has remained more stable. The biggest spike in participation came from the Internet, smartphones and the rise of the app.
In other Latin American countries pockets of bingo have existed mainly due to European influence, but gambling is not as important in society as in the UK. Gambling laws across the continent vary by region – all forms of gambling are illegal in Colombia for example. This is why bingo has had a chance to develop in the UK the same way it has, while in other countries it has been stifled.
The future of bingo in Latin America
The European influence of the colonial past played an important role in how the game of bingo was adopted in Latin America. As internet connectivity has improved around the world, the spread of online bingo has also improved.
Central and South America are huge potential markets that are only recently opening up to the world of online bingo. It is an exciting time to see how its popularity will spread.