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Bingo a Winner for South Carolina

30 August 2001

SOUTH CAROLINA –August 30, 2001 –As reported by the (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina) Sun News: "Statewide, bingo games generate between $85 million and $92 million per year, according to the S.C. Department of Revenue, which regulates the game.

"Players and experts say bingo enjoys its huge popularity because it often offers cash prizes, a chance to socialize and develop friendships, and a way to beat boredom.

"…Senior citizens at the Grand Strand Senior Center in Myrtle Beach picketed the center when bingo games were halted there in July.

"…The board of directors for the Horry County Council on Aging - which oversees the senior center - is expected to make a decision on the bingo issue as soon as next week. Of the county's 10 senior centers, the Myrtle Beach site was the only one that offered cash prizes.

"…Clarence Fournier, chairman of the bingo committee at the Grand Strand Senior Center, said he thinks the Council on Aging wants to offer prizes, such as free food, instead of cash for bingo winners.

"`If they do that, they won't get the people,' Fournier said. `Who wants to play for prizes?'

"Winning money might be especially important to senior citizens on fixed incomes, experts said.

"…Revenue figures show that $5.5 million from bingo licenses went to the state's general fund; $2.6 million to charities; and $1.4 million each to the Division on Aging Senior Citizen Centers and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism during the 1999-2000 fiscal year.

"…Carrie Kennedy, who won $25,000 playing bingo in 1989, said the game can be a good teaching tool for children.

"`I used to bring my granddaughter to play bingo and the game helped her learn her numbers,' said Kennedy, a 54-year-old retired Wal-Mart employee who lives in the Georgetown County community of North Santee.

"…But experts say there can be a downside to bingo - it can be as addictive as any other type of gambling…"

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