Winning isn’t everything

TOURIST Bingo 2
The pink dauber was my only prize for the evening.

For years I’ve driven past a little nondescript building just north of the Rosedale Mall. The one-story building looks small compared to the area’s big box retailers, but a tall lighted sign out front beacons drivers on southbound Snelling Avenue: Roseville Bingo Hall!

A couple weekends ago I coerced my friend the Percolator to go on a bingo outing with me. In the spirit of the game, I’ll tell you about our adventure by the letter.

Before you can play, you have to buy score sheets.

Bingo sessions typically last an hour and 45 minutes, with several games and an intermission. You need your sheets before the start time and you play all the games.

Our packets cost $10 each. There were three games per sheet, but most people in line bought several packets to play at once. It’s cash only and there’s an ATM machine available.

Read the rules posted at the cashier: Players must be 18 or older, everyone in the party must purchase a bingo package and no splitting of packages is allowed. Show your ID on your birthday and receive a free package!

TOURIST Bingo 1
Roseville Bingo Hall has been in operation for 17 years.

Ink bottles are used to daub your winning numbers.

They are mandatory. But don’t worry, you can buy them there. They come in numerous colors, and some contain glitter to make the games even more exciting.

I was familiar with the typical horizontal and vertical winning patterns, but bingo’s gotten a lot more complex since I played as a kid. A straight line or 4-corner wins $50; double bingo, two winning patterns on one sheet, takes $99; “Roseville Red” allows for any of three winning combinations and a $99 prize; and the last game of the evening, Bonanza, covers the entire sheet with a take-home of $1,000.

Noise, talking, and laughing are discouraged.

The bingo hall was quieter than most libraries I’ve been in. This is serious business and not a party.

There were several tables with large groups, but most of the hall was filled with couples and singles. Tables were covered with score sheets, but bingo may also be played electronically. Monitors were propped up and gamers touched screens when numbers were called

In between games and during the intermission people talked and went to the cafe that serves burgers, tacos and ice cream. Alcohol is not served.

TOURIST Bingo 3
Advanced winning patterns.

Gambling, according to the Minnesota Gambling Control Board, may be conducted in the state only by registered non-profit organizations.

Turns out, bingo is like pull-tabs. The Roseville Bingo Hall raises money for two organizations: Roseville Hockey and Midway Speedskating.

Photos of the teams decorate the lobby. Several volunteers operate the cash register, call Bingo numbers, help customers at their tables and work in the cafe.

Over the course of the evening, I never even got three numbers in a row.

Perc came close, but just before he yelled “bingo” we noticed the winning pattern wasn’t a straight line. (Be sure to get a pattern sheet for your table.)

I realize that bingo is completely a game of chance. It’s actually based on Italian lottery games from the 16th century.

We took a chance on trying Bingo for an evening’s entertainment. We had a good time overall, and luckily I was only out $20.


Roseville Bingo Hall

2525 N. Snelling Ave., Roseville

Open 364 days of the year

Bingo sessions:

  • Mondays at 1, 3, 7 and 9 p.m.
  • Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 3, 7 and 9 p.m.
  • Thursdays through Sundays at 1, 3, 7, 9 and 11 p.m.

LUNCH TIP

I miscalculated the distance, so it’s not really near Roseville Bingo Hall, but after our losing streak I took the Percolator for some good strong coffee at Taste of Scandinavia Bakery & Cafe, 2900 Rice St., Little Canada.


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