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Bingo Makes Casino a Social Club for Elderly

21 April 2001

LAS VEGAS – April 21, 2001 –As reported by the Associated Press: 'Mary Gilligan taps her frail fingers against the table, waiting, hoping this bingo game is hers.

"…`Son of a gun,' Gilligan, 79, says after the agony of yet another losing game. But she will stay here for hours longer -- visiting with her bingo player friends, sipping free drinks, just maybe winning a game.

"Each day, the blur of silver hair fills the bingo hall at Arizona Charlie's, a popular locals' casino on the city's west side, and many others across the Las Vegas Valley. Some 2,500 people, mostly senior citizens, play bingo here every day.

"…`It's more like a social club for them,' says bingo manager Mary Sandlin. `They get to know each other. '

"…Bingo is one of the lowest grossing casino games -- only $2.6 million last year compared to $2.5 billion on quarter slot machines. But casinos offer bingo because they hope gamblers wander up to the other games as well. Some casinos like Arizona Charlie's even have complimentary shuttle buses that pick up players at their retirement homes.

"…Player Micki Enciso, 76, suddenly bursts into the conversation and holds up a sheet of paper. `I bring jokes and we laugh!' she declares. `If we don't win, we laugh a lot.'

"Gilligan begins to fidget again, tapping her fingers, twisting in her chair as she listens to the rhythm of the numbers.

"…`You see who's calling?'she asks her friends. `Julie. She never calls my numbers.'

"…`Oh Julie, I'm going to smack you,' Gilligan says.

"Enciso chimes in, `I could dance on the table.'

"There are no takers, just serious bingo players."

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