Bingo is back, baby! And it's not just for the oldies
IT IS a game that used to be synonymous with blue rinses and knitted cardigans, but bingo is back - and not just for the oldies.
Technology has brought the humble game back to life and is engaging younger players as they discover the fun pastime that dates from the Middle Ages.
Bingo Sales Group Australia, the leading supplier of bingo and fundraising products, chairman Dennis Lever said the game had had its ups and downs in history.
Right now we are riding another wave of popularity.
"They used to draw the numbers out of a barrel, but in the 1980s-90s this progressed into electronic number generation systems," Mr Lever said.
"Then in the last 10 years it has modernised even further with the introduction of handheld tablets making the game more appealing to a wider audience.
"The tablets have attracted younger people but the older ones have taken to the tablets like you wouldn't believe - they're right into it."
So just where did this game of numbers originate and how did it get into our clubs?
"It goes back to the Middle Ages where they used to play in a casual environment; you'd see people sitting around with dogs and chickens in the background using pieces of corn to mark off their numbers," Mr Lever said.
"I know that because we had a painting depicting this scene in our office."
The game got a second wind during the Second World War when the armed forces played it under the name of Tombola.
"Then there was a much bigger revival in the UK when all the picture theatres were losing money in the 1950s," Mr Lever said.
"They took bingo into the theatres as a profitable enterprise in place of movies.
"That's the style of bingo that has evolved here in Australia."
Initially Bingo was played illegally in amusement tents before it was legalised in Queensland in 1972 and made its way into community events calendars.
Now bingo is mostly played in licensed clubs across the nation.
"Clubs have a range of facilities including restaurants, bars and everything the players enjoy," Mr Lever said.
Just where bingo is heading, Mr Lever's guess is as good as yours, but he did say there was a misconception about the game that needed to be rectified.
"It used to be a hall filled with smoke where people played for groceries etc. and many people still think that's what it's all about," he said.
"They don't realise bingo is played in modern friendly environments, it's a safe and social atmosphere where you have chance at winning."
Bingo is commonly used for fundraising events in local communities, giving back to community based organisations like charities and sporting bodies.
About 4% of the Australian population plays bingo, but Mr Lever hopes the integration of technology and great prizes on offer today will help grow the industry.
JOIN THE FUN!
GET on board our latest competition! Find your four-game bingo card inside the paper this Friday and Saturday and be in the running to win one great prize every week including: $1000 fuel voucher, $1000 Visa debit card, $1000 travel voucher and a $1500 grocery voucher. One prize will be won in the region each week.
There will also be a second chance draw with a whopping $5000 cruise voucher on offer for one lucky winner across the Australian Regional Media footprint.
From Saturday, we'll list 10 numbers in the paper every day and you will cross them off in the corresponding week on your bingo card. Once you have all numbers crossed off - yell BINGO!
Phone the 1900 number on your card to register your bingo and you'll be in the draw to win that week's prize. A new game starts every Saturday.
Extra bingo cards will be inside the following Friday and Saturday newspaper, but for a shot at all four weeks, get in early.
Head HERE for more information.