Paper bingo offers enjoyment for all ages

Paper bingo offers enjoyment for all ages

Paper bingo offers enjoyment for all ages

Mark Schuster

Paper bingo sessions held at a local Indian casino can provide numerous benefits to tribal members, as well as a pastime for people of all ages.

Eastern Shawnee Bordertown Bingo and Gaming in Seneca, Okla., provides numerous gambling activities for interested adults, including off-track betting and electronic gaming, but the main draw may well be the nightly paper bingo sessions.

Ronnie Lawson, employee of the casino, said the paper bingo sessions can draw in around 450 people on an average night.

“I’ve seen people spend between the bare minimum of $11.50 for one pack (of bingo cards) up to those people who spend well over $200 for one session,” Lawson said. “Sometimes it makes you wonder where these people get their money.”

Lawson said while problems with patrons who spend well beyond their means at the casino are not uncommon, those instances almost never occur with paper bingo.

“Most people who play paper bingo have a set on what they are going to spend,” Lawson said. “They usually play the same thing every time, so they know what they’re getting into.”

Unlike the other games in the casino, which are electronic and programmed to only pay out every so often, Lawson said the odds at winning at paper bingo are better.

“If you just buy the minimum pack of 13 cards, you have at least a 13 in 700 shot of winning something,” he said. “That’s pretty good odds in gambling. When you play a machine, you only have a one in several thousand shot of winning. With paper, everyone has an equal shot.”

Lawson, who did not reveal how much money the casino makes from paper bingo, said the revenues of the casino provide full medical coverage, as well as housing, eye-glasses, clothing and many other necessities to the thousands of tribe members.

“It’s all paid for by the casino,” Lawson said.

Aside from supporting thousands of people, paper bingo provides a social interaction for many of its participants, some who come from as far away as St. Louis to play at the Seneca casino.

Archabe Daniel, who has been playing bingo for 35 years, rides a chartered bus to Seneca from St. Louis every weekend to play bingo. For her, the casino offers a pleasant atmosphere and a chance to mingle with friends.

“I don’t work, so it’s something that fills my time,” Daniel said. “Aside from my friends who ride the bus from St. Louis, I also know several people who ride buses from Kansas City and Springfield. We like to talk and catch up.”

Daniel said she first became interested in bingo when she heard of a local lady who had won a large jackpot, and Daniel has been playing ever since.

“The most I’ve ever won from one session of bingo is $3,600,” she said.

Harriet Davis, Neosho, has been playing bingo for 13 years and considers herself addicted to the hobby. She said she had to be dragged to a casino the first time she played.

“It took a friend of mine a year to talk me into it,” Davis said. “When I finally went, I won. For the next month, she, I or both of us won something. That gets you hooked.”

Davis plays bingo twice a week and spends around $90 for each session. She said she almost always wins something.

“Even if it’s just a few dollars from a small jackpot I have to share with several other people, I usually win something,” Davis said.

She said bingo is not just a senior-citizen hobby, but one enjoyed by all ages.

“It used to be almost exclusively a senior pastime, but not anymore,” she said. “Things have changed.”

Davis said the Seneca facility is a good place to go to play bingo, with friendly, personable staff and reasonable prices – a sentiment echoed by Daniel.

“It’s nice, and the workers are very friendly,” Daniel said.

“It’s a good place to play that doesn’t get overly crowded,” Davis said. “When you walk in the door, you feel like you have a chance.”

For those interested in taking a chance, the casino is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Paper bingo sessions are held from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., with early-bird sessions starting at 6 p.m.

There is also an afternoon session on Sunday, which starts at 2 p.m. The price for a basic regular session packet, which includes 13 cards, is $11.50.

Value sessions are also held on certain nights of the week. Packets for these sessions are $8.50.

For more information, call (800) 957-2435.