Welcome to Brett’s Corner – a monthly column by the 2006 Bingo Caller Of The Year and GalaTV caller.
Viva Las Vegas – Bingo USA Style!
Well this last month I was forced to go to the US of A to find out more about the way the Americans play the great game of Bingo. It’s was a stressful assignment I can tell you! I had to visit Los Angeles for three days, with the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and Universal Studios and then I had to endure four days in Las Vegas sampling the nightlife and walking the strip! Oh the things I do for this column!
No, but seriously though, as part of the prize in winning Bingo Caller Of The Year, you get to visit an American Bingo hall and see how they play the game stateside. I met a gentleman called Don Carrier who is the editor of a magazine called the Bingo Bugle and is one of the senior figures in the Bingo industry in California. He was my ‘guide’ throughout my US Bingo adventure.
We visited a Bingo hall in Las Vegas called the Suncoast Casino. The first thing I found out is that Bingo in the states is just as big as it is in the UK, however in the states the Bingo halls are normally incorporated in Casinos rather than as a stand-alone building.
The tickets are completely different, you are looking for lines diagonals, horizontals and occasionally full houses, (a bit like Party Bingo) Prize money varies depending on whether you purchase an economy/standard or premium set of tickets. The more you spend the more you can win. Also the sessions are shorter, only an hour long in comparison to our 3-4 hours in the UK, however it’s spread across the whole day (e.g. Bingo is played at 11-1-3-5, etc)
Each number called corresponds to a letter: B.I.N.G and O and there is a gap of 14 seconds (yes 14!) between each number, as you are dabbing off multiple sets of tickets. And, get this; they still play Bingo with balls! (No, I’m not being rude) I actually got to call a couple of games and thoroughly enjoyed myself, although a couple of my jokes got lost in translation!
To me the American game seemed slow, however my girlfriend Max played along and said that the pauses are needed as you are often dabbing several times each number is called. The same buzz is there though when you are waiting for one and Bingo customers are the same mad people in any Bingo club you go to!
All in all Bingo in The States is just as fun as it is over here. In many respects the US game is a couple of years ahead of us in technology and ideas. Electronic Bingo has been in the states for a few years now and they also have progressive jackpots which will be introduced over here when the new Gaming act is enforced in September.
The hourly sessions also make it easier to appease the smokers as they have got an hour to attend to there ‘fix’ in-between games. Maybe that’s what will happen here. Speaking of which next month I’m going to be talking about the ‘smoke-free’ Bingo halls. Do I think it’s good or bad? Find out soon.
P.S can I just say a big hello to Jean, Jill and Sally from Portsmouth who actually came to play at the Suncoast casino when I was there! Thanks for supporting me and sorry I couldn’t give you a win!
Max and Brett playing Bingo USA style (Photograph courtesy of Dan Carrier)
Brett at the Grand Canyon