Goodbye to a Real Bingo Pioneer

In the United States, Indian reservations have often been poverty stricken. A decade ago one reservation had the dubious distinction of having the largest population living in abject poverty. Many reservations are quite large; the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota is larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. In the 1980’s many tribes discovered a way out of poverty-bingo. Several tribes in Florida and California began to offer high stakes bingo games on their reservations. States moved to shut the games down but a favorable court decision gave the tribes the right to operate gaming and bingo establishments.
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) recognized but also limited the rights of Native Americans to conduct gaming operations. The act requires tribes to negotiate with states about what kind of games will be offered and to make sure that tribes are the sole owners of gaming operations. Gaming and bingo have lifted many reservations out of poverty and the revenue generated by bingo and gaming has enabled some tribes to build hospitals, schools and the casinos have provided full time employment at a living wage.

One of the early pioneers of Native American gaming was Anna Prieto Sandoval. Her recent death was mourned throughout the San Diego area and beyond. When Sandoval became the leader of the Sycuan Band of Mission Indians in 1972 the Mission reservation in El Cajon was a settlement of wooden shacks with no indoor plumbing. Sandoval built a bingo hall and attendance exceeded all expectations and soon the tribe built a 68,000-square-foot casino complex offering bingo, poker and an off track betting theater.

The success of the bingo hall prompted big changes on the Mission reservation. New houses were built for all tribal members along with a new church, fire station and a medical clinic. Chronic unemployment became a thing of the past and the tribe was one of the richest in the United States. The casino complex is now the biggest employer in East San Diego County and employs 600 workers who serve 1 million visitors a year. While the tribe prospered from gaming operations Sandoval lamented the fact that many old tribal customs and traditions were being lost. It is truly amazing what one woman with a vision and bingo can do. Thanks to Sandoval and her hard work no tribal member will ever go hungry again.

Bingo has an interesting history, especially in some cultures.  Now, most people not only think of bingo as a land-based game, however a thriving internet bingo game with many online bingo sites like BingHouse to choose from. While looking through online bingo reviews trying to choose which sites are the best, also take a look through the bingo articles and learn about the history of bingo as well as any interesting bingo news.

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