Known for a century in the United States and popularized in the 1960s in Quebec, bingo remains a popular game for some, and even a way of life for others.
In 1998, the year when the Quebec government passed a law banning the use of tobacco in public places, bingo halls slowly emptied to the point where some predicted their disappearance. 25 years later, the halls are filled with avid players, superstitious characters, and people like me, a bit lost in all this exciting and intoxicating hustle and bustle.
Why talk about bingo in an article usually dedicated to the Multisports Center and the benefits of physical exercise in all its forms? It’s because this fall, the news passed by in a whirlwind, some read it, others didn’t, so we’re coming back to talk about it, especially because we had the unique experience of an evening at Bingo Valleyfield. And when you experience it for the first time, you come out transformed, perhaps due to the $1,000 won by our accompanying friend.
This fall, the Multisports Center received sponsorship from Bingo Valleyfield to purchase bikes for the ZVP club. As a result, five community organizations received checks for tens of thousands of dollars, enabling them to fund various projects and equipment. This is a great opportunity to highlight that Bingo Valleyfield, like all bingo halls in Quebec, reinvests all the profits generated by the game. “A portion goes to the managers to run the hall, and a portion goes to certain licensed organizations,” explains Martin Lacroix, the general manager of Bingo Valleyfield. Among the licensed organizations is Vision, sport, jeunesse, through which the assistance to the Multisports Center was channeled. Writing about this topic was, therefore, the perfect occasion to go and play and give back to the community at the same time. “Bingo was declining over the years,” confirms Martin Lacroix. “We hadn’t taken care of it. But now, it’s going very well. There’s a new wave, we’ve transitioned to digital, and bingo is played during the day and evening.”
In fact, every evening of the week, as well as on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday during the day, bingo games are held at the Valleyfield Civic Center. What’s more, they take place on two levels. On average, 140 people per night wager a minimum of $22, which is the amount required to play all the games of the evening. It is possible to purchase additional cards and increase one’s chances of winning. It is not uncommon to see prizes of $12,000, $13,000, and even $14,000 being won, mentioned the director. The game is more complex than it was 25 years ago, and it is strongly recommended to arrive an hour in advance to be ready when the game begins. As for me, I arrived late and had to work very hard and ask for help from other kind and welcoming players to get back into the game. This evening ended with a $1,000 win for our accompanying friend, and it was remarkable to see how quickly one of the responsible individuals on-site handed her the money in 50 twenty-dollar bills.
In short, Bingo Valleyfield offers a unique evening for people looking to add some excitement to their night, and this little joy will certainly contribute to building a greater one with the donations given once a year.
By: Patrick Richard