Cafe Ban Sends Players Back to Bingo Halls

Cafe Ban Sends Players Back to Bingo HallsIn several states ‘internet cafes’ have lured former bingo players in search of entertainment. Recently the state of Florida closed internet cafes in the state after a hugs scandal that resulted in the Lieutenant Governor’s resignation. As it turned out the internet cafes were operated by a fake veteran’s charity. The cafes took in hundreds of millions but the so called veteran’s organization received only a very small percentage of the profits. Since the cafes closed some of the players have returned to traditional bingo halls.

After two years Peg Kane is playing bingo again at a local bingo hall. Kane told reporters that bingo is not her first choice. Kane said “I’m an Internet cafe player. I like to win money. I’m a gambler. Not a big gambler, but a gambler.”  Until the cafes were closed Kane preferred the fast moving games at sweepstakes cafes until a ban was passed in the Florida legislature earlier this month. Lawmakers and Governor Rick Scott acted after an investigation showed that the owners of Allied Veterans of the World illegally siphoned off most of $290 million in proceeds.

As a result of the raids on cafes traditional bingo halls run by churches and service clubs are benefiting from the closures as former cafe players look for alternatives to spend their money and time. Tim Cockrell, the owner of Jackpot Bingo told reporters “We’re seeing some people for the first time in years. They’re trickling back.” At another bingo hall, Daytona Beach Bingo, many former cafe patrons are playing bingo games. Former cafe player Fran Poole, of South Daytona, stated “We all went. A lot have come back to bingo now. I think its unfair what (the state) did, telling us what to do. Gambling is gambling. What I do with my $20 should be my own business.”

Other players at Jackpot Bingo echoed Kane’s sentiments. Kane said that bingo fits her budget but she is upset that Florida lawmakers closed her favorite gaming destinations. Kane said “There’s a double standard. I’m allowed to bet on dogs or play poker at the track, or play bingo and the lottery. But I’m not allowed to go to the Internet cafe.”  Some bingo players didn’t like the atmosphere at the cafes. Cathy Steinbuch stated “I went once or twice, but I didn’t care for it. But I am seeing more people here since the cafes closed, as an alternative.” Lauren Coon said she liked the cafes for many reasons; a place to socialize and the large prizes. Coon said “I won enough there to sod my lawn and gravel my driveway. And it paid for half a trip to Biloxi (casinos). My husband went three times a week with me. He’s recovering from heart surgery, and it gave him a reason to get out of the house. He doesn’t like bingo. So he’s back to sitting at home. They took away his purpose to get out in the morning.”

Those disappointed with the prizes at bingo halls should try online bingo. The jackpots are usually much larger than those at land based bingo halls. In addition most online bingo sites offer fast paced games similar to the ones that were so popular at the cafes.


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