Leader Blues

Monday, August 06, 2007

TOP STORY >>Thousands play legalized game

By JEFFREY SMITH
Leader staff writer

Seven area bingo halls opened their door during the first week of legalized charity bingo in the state, with four more planning to open by September.

Sherwood’s Moose Lodge opened Tuesday night with 170 players and increased to 200 on Thursday.
Bill Walters, Beebe Veterans of Foreign Wars commander, said, “We had 80 people attend opening night Wednesday with players from Augusta and Newport.”

Jacksonville’s VFW post had 116 players on Wednesday’s opening night. The King’s Outreach, a nonprofit organization helping the homeless and the needy with two thrift stores in Cabot and Jacksonville, opened a 250-seat bingo hall in Gravel Ridge with 45 people attending.

“I’m pleased with the crowd, since this was our very first time to host bingo. With all the parlors opening up at the same time, it hurt attendance, but I believe crowds will grow,” said Jackie Klatt, director.

Voters in November 2006 approved a constitutional amendment allowing charitable bingo. “Bingo had always been illegal since the state Constitution of 1874, because money is needed to participate in a game of chance for a prize reward,” said Gabe Holmstrom, spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

Bob Douglas, administrator for the Moose lodge, said, “75 percent of money brought in goes back to the players.” The lodge pays for the bingo cards and taxes. The rest goes to lodge-supported charities.

Bingo parlors can only be open twice a week and workers are volunteers.

Games last about five hours with a 10-game card pack averaging $20. Players must be at least 18 years old.

Several bingo players were glad this week arrived. Karen Hampton of North Little Rock said, “I really enjoy bingo, it’s my time to relax. I’m glad to know if I want to play bingo, I can feel good playing it because it’s legalized.”

Marilyn Tillman and her cousins, Claudia Phillips and Ann Moore, all of England, drove to Sherwood to play bingo. They have played for more than 15 years.

“Bingo lets us have a girls’ day out. We would carpool to Oklahoma to play bingo before tonight. I like playing for the money, and it’s something to do,” Tillman said.

Phillips said, “I was very upset when the games closed down, but now I have something to look forward to on Tuesdays.”
“I played bingo once a week, and think it is about time bingo came back; I signed all the petitions for it. People are going to gamble, and we might as well keep the money in the state,” said Fawn True of Cabot.

Winning at bingo is more than getting five numbers across.

Some games require double bingos before a card is a winner and there are more than 12 different game patterns a bingo hall can use during the night for a card to be a winner.

To see which pattern is playing, each player receives a game schedule for the evening or can look at the bingo board.
Patterns resemble football goals, kites, postage stamps, X’s, T’s, L’s, little jugs, large and small diamonds, large and small picture frames, four corners, baseball diamonds, block of nines and cover alls – all numbers stamped on a card.

Games at Moose Lodge, 4000 E. Kiehl Ave., are played on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Games start at 6 p.m. and end by 10:15 p.m.

TKO, The King’s Outreach, a nonprofit organization, plays bingo in Gravel Ridge at 14200 Hwy. 107. Games are from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays.

On Friday nights at 7, bingo is played at the South Bend Volunteer Fire station at 4414 Hwy. 294 N. in Jacksonville.
Proceeds benefit the South Bend Fire Fighters Association, a separate non-profit entity from the fire department.
SBFFA helps with community service projects, assisting families during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and buys emergency equipment for the firefighters.

Beebe’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, 1405 E. Center St., hosts bingo 6 to 10 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Jacksonville’s VFW Post 4540 on Hwy. 161 N. plays bingo Wednesdays at 6:15 p.m. and Sundays at 4:15 p.m.
Jacksonville’s Knights of Columbus will hold its first bingo night at 7 and Saturday at St. Jude’s Catholic Church, 2403 McArthur Drive.

The American Veterans post on 288 Hwy. 64 between El Paso and Beebe will hold games 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

There will also be a one-time specially licensed bingo night at Pulaski Technical Col-lege Foundation from 7 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 7, in the Grand Hall of the PTC Campus Center.

“Bingo night will help with scholarships and the foundation, which is separate from the state,” said Tim Jones, director of public relations and marketing.

Tickets to the event are $25 and include one bingo card for the first five games; additional cards will be available for $5 a card.

Little Rock Air Force Base Spouses’ Club will host “Red, White, and Bingo!”
Check-in and social hour begins at 6 p.m. with games starting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 16 at the LRAFB Conference Center. All spouses of active duty, Guard, Reserve, retiree and government service employees are invited to attend.

This is an open house to welcome back club members and not a fund-raising or gambling event.

For more information and to RSVP, contact Rachel Kreps at 765-0316 by 5 p.m. Aug. 13.