The game of bingo dates back far longer than you may imagine – back to the 16th century in fact – and it travelled a long way to get to us here in the UK. Originating in Italy, where it was played as a kind of national lottery, when bingo finally did hit our shores it never looked back. Originally a game used for fundraising in church halls and at village fetes, by the 1950s it was a rip-roaring national craze, taking over dance halls and spawning bingo halls across the nation. The rest of us (including some celebs) have been smitten ever since, and today around 3.5 million people play the game every week.
In 2014, that means online bingo as well as playing in traditional bricks and mortar halls, of course. The rise of the internet has completely transformed the game, bringing bigger jackpots, 24-hour gaming, mobile capabilities, as well as opening bingo up to a whole new, younger generation of players out for a bit of fun. Sites like Fabulous Bingo have succeeded in recreating the social aspect of bingo online too, thanks to live chat rooms, forums and live chat games.
With sites like this attracting hipper, younger players, celebs have been queuing up to be part of the action and jump on the bandwagon of the new craze. You’ll no doubt have seen Barbara Windsor famously heading up campaigns for Jackpotjoy, but she’s not the only celebrity that’s bingo-ing mad! Here’s a round up of some of the famous faces who love a bit of bingo action.
That’s right. Feisty Mel B might seem as wild as the come, but in truth there’s nothing this former Spice Girl loves more than daubing off those numbers. Fighting Babs for the Queen of Bingo crown, Mel B took part in a bingo advertising campaign of her own this year for Costa Bingo. Seen towering over London, Mel said her fun-loving side is what attracted her to the notoriously fun game of bingo. Growing up in Leeds it was a major part of her upbringing, and a regular bit of Friday night fun.
Sadie Frost and Kate Moss
They might have been famous for tearing it up in the 90s, but former girls-about-town, supermodel Kate Moss and her pal Sadie Frost, have changed their ways. In an interview in 2011, Sadie revealed that their partying days were behind them, and that these days they’ve settled into motherhood and love nothing more than playing bingo at home with their kids at weekends. Proof if you need it that bingo has shaken off its blue-rinse reputation and has gained a whole new generation of fans!
Bingo definitely has strong working class routes, and many films and sitcoms still use the game in a stereotypically down-at-heel way. But the fact is that these days bingo attracts all kinds of players, no matter their class or salary. Our case in point is Prince William. Now a real life Royal has admitted to loving the game, bingo’s really shaking off its working class connotations. Back in 2006 when Wills was at Sandhurst, he famously enjoyed a night out a local bingo hall with his military pals at a club in Reading. Punters were stunned to see the young Prince show up and cough up for a £5 book of bingo tickets – the top prize that night? £20! Sadly Wills didn’t win a thing, but we’re sure he coped…
Think bingo’s just a game for the gals? Well Robbie Williams is here to prove you wrong. He first got bitten by the bingo bug when he sat down to a game with the gorgeous Hollywood actress Daryl Hannah while filming scenes for his Feel music vid. Walking away a winner at a Beverly Hills charity bingo game back in 2000, he’s been a bingo lover ever since. In fact, he’s posted several bingo-related snaps on his blog over the year, including one of fellow Take That star Gary Barlow shouting the numbers at a game local to Robbie’s home – so maybe the whole band are bingo converts!