Vegas Matchbooks, part 2

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I’ve been to bingo parlors a couple of times in my life, on Native American lands outside of Albuquerque. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, by any means. Imagine a big room of cafeteria tables, and people with bingo cards, ink dabbers, and cigarettes. It’s not a fun way to spend an evening, believe me.

All bingo games end the same way: there are a handful of people around the room with JUST ONE NUMBER that they need to get in order to win the game. I’ve been there once or twice, so I know what that feels like. They call out a number, and it’s not the one you need to win. So they call another and nope, that isn’t the one, either. And this continues until somebody yells out “Bingo!” and there’s a collective groan from all of the “if only they had called 0-63 instead” crowd.

Then there’s a moment of hope, as the house checks the winning card, to see if the winner was competent enough to fill out their card correctly. But once the card is confirmed–which probably happens nine-and-a-half times out of ten–then the lucky so-and-so walks off with the money, and another game starts up right away. There’s no strategy involved, other than scanning the cards as quickly as possible before the next number is called. You learn right away that nobody’s going to go back for those who can’t keep up.

Club Bingo–a club that I would want no part of–was in business in Las Vegas between 1962 and 1983. They never had to compete with tribal bingo, and that’s probably just as well. I can’t imagine that the world today needs a 24-hour bingo joint, anyway.

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