Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Is Bingo Becoming a Bad Bet?

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Is Bingo Becoming a Bad Bet?

Article excerpt

Every Saturday evening, nearly 200 people stream into the social hall at St. Philomena Parish in Carson, California. They don't come for religious-education classes or Bible study, but for that mix of chips and numbers and letters that is bingo.

Most are senior citizens looking for some excitement, a chance to socialize, and maybe, just maybe, a $250 cash prize to boast about at the end of the night.

Each will spend between $20 and $40. That may not seem like much, but it adds up; in 1993, twice-a-week bingo games brought in $103,000. Over-seeing the whole operation is Loretta Consalvo, a 62-year-old volunteer who says she's helped with church-basement bingo since she was 12. Understandably she doesn't have much patience for those who suggest the church needs to drastically reduce its dependence on bingo income.

"Do away with bingo? I don't think so," Consalvo says. "You have these little churches that wouldn't be able to operate - heck, most of them couldn't even pay their heating bills. …

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