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Bingo Still Big in Vegas Casinos

10 January 2003

LAS VEGAS – As reported by the Las Vegas Mercury: "Inside the bingo room of Texas Station, it's as still as an oil painting, and as quiet as the inside of a church during a silent invocation. The only sound is the steady, calm voice of a woman, whose image is on a monitor, methodically calling out number after number.

"…Finally, a player shouts `Bingo!' and the other players slump a bit, put down their daubers and wait for confirmation and the start of another game.

"This scene is repeated every odd hour all afternoon and throughout the evening, mostly at locals casinos throughout Southern Nevada.

"`It's very popular, both in Southern Nevada and throughout the world,' says Don Carrier, publisher of the Bingo Bugle, a trade publication with a circulation of 115,000 in Nevada and California. `Bingo has a bigger attendance than organized baseball. It's huge, and the players are serious.'

"…Bingo executives understand this, and they go to great lengths to lure these players. They run games that make little or no money.

"…Their ulterior motive: to drive casino traffic.

"…So familiar are the players to staff workers, referred to in trade parlance as `bingo agents,' that when a player doesn't show up for a few days, it's not unusual for an agent to call the player at home just to make sure everything is okay.

"…Bingo also has its distinct culture. The players commonly use terminology completely unfamiliar to the world outside the bingo parlor.

"…So are the novelties, which include bingo cups, bingo key chains and even tidy bingo bags.

"…Among the most interesting bingo novelties are designer daubers, molded in a variety of forms, such as cute, smiling bulldogs or buff male cartoon characters wearing only briefs--nicknamed `Jock Boys' or `Romeos.'

"Most bingo players are older women. But even this aspect of the game--a game first played in 16th century Italy and popularized in America in 1929 by New York toy salesman Edwin Lowe--is changing.

"…Among the changes that are bringing in younger players is the introduction in recent years of electronic daubers that keep track of called numbers and alert the player to bingos and to possible bingos that could be one number away. But the biggest recent bingo innovation is bigger jackpots…"

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