Biribi – The Classic French Lotto Game

For many people, one of the biggest benefits of playing casino games online is being able to access and play a variety of games from all over the world. From slots to poker, roulette to craps, baccarat to blackjack and just about everything in between. Some of the most popular types of casino games are the online lotto games like Keno. These games all have a similar type of style and basic setup. Lotto games have been around for many years with each game a type of variation on the same concept. In France, one of the most popular games in the 16th and 17th Century was a game known as Biribi.

How the Game Worked

Known as a “cheating game” or Cavagnole, this popular board game was one of the first type of lotto games to become prohibited by law. Biribi was played in Southern France and in Italy around the 16th century. The game was surprisingly simple to play despite its popularity among the upper echelons of society. The game was played on a board that held either 36 or 70 numbered squares. Each player that was at the table playing the game could put his or her stakes on the number they wished to back. The winnings for the 36 square board would be 32 times the stake and the winnings for the 70 square board would be 64 times stake. The banker would keep the remaining stake on each board.

Drawing the Numbers

Originally the winning numbers in Biribi would be selected using a hoca wheel which was a predecessor of the modern day roulette wheel. When the wheel was spun, a ball was dropped into the wheel. When the wheel came to a stop, the ball would drop onto a specific number. This number would correspond to a number on the board and the winners were paid out accordingly. In the later versions of the game, numbers were drawn on tickets and placed in a small bag. The winning numbers were randomly drawn out from the bag on each turn.

A famous Account of Biribi

One of more famous accounts of the game of Biribi is from Casanova himself. He describes an occasion when he played “the cheating game” in Genoa and in a spectacular fashion broke the bank. He is said to have taken all the winnings as well as the table cloth, the board game and the silver candle sticks from the establishment. It was widely speculated that he was in collusion with the bag holder. This type of cheating was entirely possible and happened on a regular basis hence the informal “cheating” name.

Modern Day Lotto Games

The classic French game of Biribi is certainly a predecessor to most of the modern day lotto games including bingo and Keno. Keno is a game that players can play in land based casinos and online. Keno is played on a board that contains a set of 80 numbers. Players can select a single number or multiple numbers up to 10. In the online version of the game, the computer will randomly draw a set of 20 numbers. Players are paid out for each correct number chosen.