What are bingo machines?

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A bingo blower is an electronic device that shuffles and randomly selects bingo balls for the caller. They come in various sizes and prices, and are designed for players to see the balls inside. Bingo originated from an Italian lottery game in the 1500s and was popularized in the US by Edwin S. Lowe in 1929. Bingo blowers have come a long way since then and continue to be a popular game for fundraising and entertainment.

A bingo blower is a motor-driven electronic device that holds bingo balls, which look like ping-pong balls. The bingo blower continuously shuffles the balls by blasting them inside the device, then a chute on the blower randomly blows out a ball for the caller of the bingo game. In this way a bingo fan ensures a random call of each game.
Bingo fans are available in many configurations. The smaller bingo or “bubble blower” blowers are sometimes called Vegas-style blowers. They resembled popcorn popcorn with the motor and fan enclosed in a base under a dome or clear dome. At the top of the dome is a tube where the random bingo ball is produced for the caller of the game.

Other bingo fans may be quite large – about the size of a desk – and have an attached motherboard where the bingo balls thrown sit in a grid until the game is complete and the grid fixture is manipulated to return the balls into the fan part of the device.

Virtually all bingo fans are manufactured so that players can always see the balls inside the device as they are shuffled by the internal fan.
Bingo fans vary widely in price depending on the design. A bingo blower can cost anywhere from several hundred US dollars to several thousand.

According to the Gambling Times Guide to Bingo, the game has its roots in the Italian lottery Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia, which dates back to the 1500s. Over the centuries it spread to other countries and by 1850 it was so popular in Germany that the children used the Lotto card to learn the multiplication tables.

In 1929 Edwin S. Lowe, a toy dealer, was traveling from New York to Georgia and happened to stop at a carnival in Jacksonville. There he found people gathered around a booth playing cards with beans. The pitcher would call out a number from a wooden disc taken from a cigar box, and if anyone had the number on their card, they covered it with a bean. The first to get a row of beans vertically, horizontally, or diagonally would yell “Beano!” People were so excited they wouldn’t let the pitcher lock up his cabin to retire for the night. Edwin wanted to play but couldn’t find a seat. When the pitcher finally shooed everyone out, Edwin asked about the game. The carnival worker said he was traveling to Germany and discovered the game there. He had made some changes and renamed it “Beano”.

Edwin went home and invented his own cards and wooden discs. He invited friends to play at his house, using the beans to cover their cards. One of his guests was so dumb after winning that he yelled, “Bingo!” For error. Something struck Lowe and the rest, as they say, is history. Bingo was so popular that within several months of its release, even churches discovered that it was a great way to raise money, and it still is today.
Bingo blowers have taken us a long way from the tattered cigar box at a carnival fair in Jacksonville and testament to the fun of a game that has captivated us and endured for over 400 years, and likely will endure another 400.

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