The Bingo-player’s Bill of Rights During July we talk a lot about the history of this nation. The emphasis is, of course, on the events of July 1776, behind closed doors in an non-air-conditioned, fly-infested room in what would become known as Independence Hall. But, if we look at the larger history of America, we cannot overlook the first ten amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. In honor of this document, I am proposing a “Bill of Rights” for Bingo Players. This Bill of Rights also directs comments to Bingo managers.
1: All Bingo players shall be able to clearly hear the callers, WITHOUT the aid of the tote board. Calling Bingo is a difficult job, but far too many callers mumble. They may be wonderful people, but when players have to rely on the tote board, something is wrong. Hard to understand callers are the biggest threat to the success of the game today.
2: Bingo players should have the right to discuss with the managers of Bingo halls any problem that stands in the way of their enjoyment of the game. After all, it is the player who is paying for the game.
3: All Bingo players should have the right to enjoy the game, talking or kibitzing, but only to the point that it does not distract other players. On the other hand, no Bingo player should be timid about alerting a “too loud” player of the problem being created.
4: Bingo halls should be empowered to NOT pay any Bingo winner who does not scream at the top of his or her lungs when a Bingo is scored. Lackluster, bored or otherwise grumpy players shall not be allowed to play.
5: Bingo halls should not create games with more than three winning patterns, plus four corners. It is estimated that thousands of people a year Bingo without knowing it because they are too busy trying to keep up with the patterns.
6: Bingo halls shall not call the game at such a speed as to discourage paper players. This practice would seem to be only to the benefit of the hall, which, or course, wants to sell the more expensive electronic machines.
7: Bingo halls shall call the Dual-Dab or Double-Action game at the same speed as regular games. There is a false idea that it is easier to play one of those cards. It is actually more difficult. Playing a Dual-Dab or Double-Action card is the same as playing two cards.
8: All Bingo players should generously reward the runners (as best they can and where allowed by law) and realize that it is not an easy job to work in a Bingo parlor.
Enjoy your freedoms and the game. Next month, more letters to email@example.com
Drop me a line on the Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org. And, if you don’t have e-mail, a friend says you can use his physical address: DD, Box 5441, Palm Springs, CA, 92263.
I’ve run for President twice in my lifetime, and frankly I didn’t fare too well. My own kids didn’t give me their vote. Heck they wouldn’t even trust me with five bucks till Friday. After two failures, I dropped out of politics forever, and it’s been rather freeing. Still…with the daily news, I get that itchy feeling that won’t go away.
I’m not saying I am going to run again, but lately a lot of my Bingo buddies think I may have a crack at the Presidency this time. Remembering the excitement of campaigning and debates has started the adrenaline flowing.
No one ever told me it could be such a cushy job. I don’t own a club, or anything, but I do have a little house trailer in an orange grove in Florida and I love flying down there even if only for three or four days of Bingo, casino, or dog races. I could get there a lot more often if the taxpayers were fronting my expenses.
I ran it by my sons.
“Are you crazy, Mom? You couldn’t take the stress. You freak out if someone doesn’t like your new haircut,” said one. “And besides, I’m not living in the white house with all my cousins.”
“What about that new lawn mower I just bought you?” said the other. “The staff at the White House would never let you mow that big lawn with a push mower.”
I talked it over with my clan at Bingo and before the evening was over they had their plans all made to start a Bingo hall in the Rose Room.
“We could lower our national debt with it,” one friend said. The excitement was building up to a great crescendo. “All we would have to do is build a ramp for your wheel chair and install some safety bars here and there.”
“Bev, did it occur to you that Meals on Wheels might not want to deliver that far away?” Good old sensible Marge brought things back to reality.
That did it.
“I am formally announcing that I will not run for president next time. I have nothing further to add.”
“But what about the national debt?”
“I have nothing further to add.”
Contact Bev at email@example.com.
Dear Aunt Bingo:
My husband and I were visiting Florida earlier this year and chose one cloudy day to stop in at one of the local Bingos we’d seen while driving around town. It was a pleasant little place that was clean and layed out nicely, so we decided to buy-in and play.
While it was fun to be playing Bingo in a new place, what was not fun was when I spotted the caller subtly signaling to someone. I looked around and saw a player signal back. The caller did it again, and another player signaled something. It was very suspicious. Were these people cheating?
I whispered to my husband what I saw, and that I suspected there was something funny going on. A woman at our table overheard me. “They aren’t signaling, they’re signing,” she said. “We have deaf players and the caller sometimes signs to them.”
I felt like a complete idiot. My husband found it hilarious.
Name withheld, Michigan
Wow, that’s really embarrassing!
If it had been me, I think I would have quietly packed up all my Bingo things and bolted from that hall as fast as my feet would carry me. I certainly applaud you if you stayed for the entire Bingo session! —Aunt Bingo
Dear Aunt Bingo:
Lots of us players feel that the prize money is too low at Bingo. We think that games would be a lot more popular and successful in collecting money for charity if they offered players higher/more jackpots.
What is the process for getting the prize money raised at Bingo? Do we talk to the people who run the Bingo? Do we maybe do a petition with supporting signatures and submit it? Who makes this decision?
Ellen C., New York, via email
It would certainly be convenient if Bingo operators had the power to determine the limits on jackpots. But, unfortunately that’s not the case.
While Bingo halls can lower prize amounts awarded per Bingo session (when there is low player turnout, for example), they can only raise prize money to a maximum which has been predetermined by the state where the Bingo is being offered.
State laws control Bingo prize limits—as well as pretty much everything else that happens in Bingo gaming. If someone offers prize money higher than what the law permits, they are breaking the law and can be arrested and jailed! Pretty serious stuff for such an otherwise fun and friendly game.
There is a way to get limits increased, and it does occur from time to time. But, it takes legislative action on the part of state lawmakers to make that happen.
Typically, it begins with Bingo operators banding together and making a pitch to lawmakers on why current limits are too low and why they need to be increased for the sake of the charities which receive support from Bingo. If the operators can get one lawmaker to bite, that lawmaker will sponsor a bill to amend the current law and introduce it to the legislature. Next, there is legislative debate, revisions, more debate, more revisions and, hopefully and eventually, a favorable vote.
As a player, you are not usually part of the process, except to let Bingo operators know that you are not happy with prize limits and would like them increased. A petition signed by players and submitted to multiple Bingo managers could certainly help get that message across. But it is a very long legislative road to getting any detail, including prize limits, changed. —Aunt Bingo
Share your views! Write to Aunt Bingo c/o the Bingo Bugle, P.O. Box 527, Vashon, Washington 98070, or email her at STENGL456@aol.com. Be sure to include your name and address (you can request that your name not be published), as typically she will not include anonymous letters in her columns.
Kate and I decided to throw a Fourth of July party. These are difficult because the fireworks don’t start until ten—much too late to start a party. So we decided, after much deliberation, to start with a six-thirty dinner, play Bingo and end with the fireworks. The dinner was easy—just a buffet with people bringing side dishes, but the Bingo was a bit of a problem. We could not give cash prizes as we were not charging entrance fees, so we settled on patriotic gifts. Kate said she would be in charge of getting all the necessary Bingo supplies and left me to take care of the prizes.
I finally consulted a variety store owner friend and we decided on various bobble-head dolls waving American flags. These were pretty cute after all. One was a black Betsy Ross with sewing in her lap, another George Washington holding a fake silver dollar, another Andrew Jackson on his horse, still another Alexander Hamilton counting money. They were all as clever as could be—a bit spendy, but what the heck. It was only once a year.
I bought ten prizes, hoping that would be enough and returned home to find Kate in a tizzy over daubers. She had the cards and the machine that whirled the balls, but could find no daubers. I called everybody and told them to bring a dauber each and we were rolling again.
The evening was fun from the very start. Dinner went very well, but everyone ate quickly, eager to get down to playing Bingo. When the first prize was given to my friend, Carol, she was so delighted she wouldn’t stop playing with it so we could get on with the games. She got Benjamin Franklin with a kite in one hand and a flag in the other and was very pleased.
We had made up a couple of new games to celebrate the occasion. One was a firecracker—or in other words, a straight line in any direction, anywhere on the card. The other made-up game we called a starburst, which is the big X and the big cross together. It might as well have been a blackout as nearly every square was covered. My friend Craig won the firecracker and was very pleased with Alexander Hamilton.
By now everyone had the idea of the prizes and the competition was fierce. Kevin had a problem with his dauber and had to end up using a crayon to mark his squares. Carlene was so excited to be on that she made everybody think she had won. Fortunately, she did win that game and Betsy Ross went to her.
Kate was having a super time calling. She loved doing that while I circulated, checked cards and handed out prizes. Bates was on for the next game quite early and very eager to win one of the prizes. “Oh, I hope I win Andy Jackson,” he said, daubing furiously. “I really want him. He has always been one of my heroes.”
Bates won the game and I made sure Andrew Jackson went to him. He was so happy and excited that I found it very touching.
The final blackout came at twenty minutes of ten, just time for the game, a bathroom break and then the big climax of the party—the fireworks. I had reserved George Washington for this win and was rooting for shy David to get this one. Then to my delight he was on and went on to win the game and George Washington. “I’m so happy and grateful,” he said, grinning. “I never win anything, but maybe this will break the spell.”
We took a quick break and then all went onto the deck to watch the show of lights. It was really spectacular this year. I especially loved the twisters in the sky.
When it was all over, we sighed contentedly and all agreed it had been the best Fourth of July ever.