Bingo gaming gains popularity with young people in The Heights

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by Tiffany Craig / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on May 10, 2013 at 11:54 PM

Updated Saturday, May 11 at 12:00 AM

THE HEIGHTS — Your grandma has never played bingo quite like this.

“I’m pretty impressed with so many young people in the middle of the week playing bingo,” said Brooke Dedmon.

Players line up early at the SPJST Lodge #88 on Beall Street in the Heights. The doors open at 5:15 p.m. They’re greeted by Dixie at the door, pay $5 dollars for 10 games and wait for Carol to call their numbers.

“When I try to invite some of my co-workers, they’re like, ‘Dude you’re 25. Why are you going to bingo,’” said George Batrez. “I’m like, ‘Cuz it’s freaking awesome.’”

The games started with a small sign out front, and it’s booming among young people thanks to Facebook, Yelp and old fashioned word-of-mouth.

You can bring your own wine and liquor, but beer and non-alcoholic drinks are sold at the bar. Your dinner is welcome, too.

“So what group of young people doesn’t want to get together and bring your own wine and liquor,” said Megan Silva, who is celebrating her 25th birthday at the lodge. “This is the bingo birthday bonanza.”

Everyone stays quiet to hear the numbers being called, but be prepared for a loud “boo” the minute someone yells, “Bingo.”

The jackpots range from just over $100 to the final game that pays out $600 minus 5 percent for taxes.

The young crowd might be taking up most of the seats, but they haven’t run off the seasoned players.

“We don’t mind the young people coming,” said Helen Hegwood, who has played for almost 50 years. “We enjoy the camaraderie that goes on here.”

Our KHOU 11 News crew stayed all night to find out who would take home the nearly $600 jackpot.

“Bingo,” yelled Barbara Liendo. She’s a 58-year-old grandmother, who is playing for the first time.

“Are you coming back to bingo?” asked reporter Tiffany Craig.

“Yes, next week. I’ll be here,” Liendo said. Grandma might have some competition playing bingo these days, but it doesn’t mean she’s not going to win.

Capacity at the lodge is 756 including workers, and just about every Thursday, they have to turn players away.

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