The Growth Of Bingo’s Popularity In Latin America

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News Americas, NY, NY, Thurs. Oct. 28, 2021: Bingo has officially gone global. Since its European inception and consummate takeover of the UK, the game has acquired fans all across Europe and North America.

In the age of the Internet, it seems now, people from every country – including those in Latin America are playing the game. How has the unassuming game of chance made such a worldwide impact?

Bingo began its life in 16th century Italy as Lotto and spread through France to the shores of Great Britain over the subsequent 300 years. There it remained a pastime of the nobility until the 1920s when it found appeal in the working classes.

At a similar period, across the Atlantic, bingo had arrived in the USA where Americans were also discovering a love for the game. The 75-ball variant that would become the staple there was slightly different to the 90-ball game that was popular in Britain. Brits are well-known for their love of bingo, with many people still heading to traditional bingo halls as well as playing the game online. Bingo halls in the UK are renowned for bingo lovers sat with their heads down and their bingo daubers at the ready to mark off the numbers called. For those who are new to bingo and not sure on what bingo daubers are, here are the best bingo dauber tips that will help you with your next game of land-based bingo!

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 worldwide scale. The number of people now playing online bingo worldwide is in the hundreds of millions and the majority of these are female.

Mexico

Mexico’s version of bingo is called Loteria. It arrived in Mexico via Spain and is played with a set of 54 cards. At first glance Loteria would appear to have more in common with a card game but the rules, depending on the region, follow more closely the principles of bingo.

Each of the 54 cards has a different image, number and corresponding name underneath. Players are given a scorecard that has a selection of the cards printed on it, arranged in a grid.

The caller, or cantor in Spanish, will draw a card at random and either announce it verbatim or recite a short riddle alluding to its identity. If the card features on a player’s scorecard, it is covered up with a cork, bottle top or counter. The winner is the first to complete a successful horizontal or diagonal line on their scorecard and subsequently yell, “Loteria!” or “Buena!”.

The rules of the game vary by region but one thing that remains somewhat consistent is the pack of cards used and their artwork. The ‘Gallo’ deck, by Don Clemente, has been pervasive nationwide and the images now have significant cultural influence.

Guatemala

Guatemala has a tradition of playing bingo on Sundays, usually around holiday seasons. “Bingo para el domingo” or bingo for Sundays will see townspeople congregate in parks to play the game.

Brazil

Being the largest, most populous nation in the Americas, Brazil, unsurprisingly, has the most brick and mortar bingo venues. In the late 20th century, Brazilian legislation exempted bingo from otherwise prohibited private gambling restrictions. As a result, bingo halls began to open across the country and today there are around 600 bingo halls, especially in the wealthier southern states.

Brazil has strict anti-gambling laws and the legal space that bingo operates in as an outlier is partly responsible for its popularity. The lottery is another area of Brazilian society where legal gambling is allowed to take place.

Perhaps unique to Brazil in the modern context, is the association of bingo as a pastime for the wealthy. Brazilian bingo halls can appear opulent places of excess and indulgence—possibly a look back to the roots of bingo in the 1500s.

The Rest Of Latin America

The UK’s relationship with bingo has been tempestuous with great highs and lows where the game’s future would appear in question. Right now, bingo has undergone a great resurgence, helped in no small part by the promulgation of online bingo, which has, in turn, greatly benefited the real-world side of the industry too.

In Latin nations, where bingo, or one of its variants, is engrained in the culture, popularity has remained steadier. The biggest spike in participation has come via the Internet, the smartphone and the rise of the app.

In other Latin American countries, pockets of bingo have existed mainly due to European influence, but the game is not as important in society as in the UK. Gambling laws across the continent vary depending on region – all forms of gambling are illegal in Colombia for example. This is why bingo was given a chance to grow in the UK in the way that it did, whereas in other countries it has been stifled.

The Future Of Bingo In Latin America

European influence from the colonial past has played a prominent role in how the game of bingo has been adopted in Latin America. As internet connectivity has improved worldwide, so has the spread of online bingo.

Central and South America are huge potential markets that are only recently opening up to the world of online bingo. It’s an exciting time to see how its popularity will spread.