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All in the Family
And not always fun

Dear Aunt Bingo,
We have a local Bingo that is run by a charitable organization, but a lot of players have remarked that it is actually “family owned and operated.” We say this because from the start, a particular local family, which is quite large, has been highly involved with the charity and also very active in running the Bingo.
In the early days this was no big deal: family members have held various senior posts with the charity’s governing board over the years and were very active in all kinds of recruiting efforts, fundraisers and other activities. A lot of that involvement has faded over time, however, except for the Bingo, where a lot of them still work and seem to almost act like celebrities starring in their personal Bingo show.
Unfortunately, a good number of them behave the same way as players, with special tables and seats reserved for them; a lot of chatting, laughing, shouting across the room and general socializing with family and nonfamily Bingo workers between and during the games; Bingo paper set aside for them (which they do pay for) so they don’t have to stand in line like the rest of us; and so on.
A number of players have remarked that they also seem to win more than the rest of us, which I don’t really think is true, shows how their behavior is creating gossip and additional ill will.
Generally speaking, they are perfectly nice people, but this “privileged” behavior has been rubbing the other players the wrong way for quite a while. In many ways we’re left feeling like we are there to be an audience to their ongoing show.
Our hands are definitely tied as far as lodging a complaint because we would be complaining to an aunt or uncle about her or his nieces and nephews or going to a grandparent about his or her kids and grandkids. I know for a fact that at least two players were overheard by a member of the family grumbling about the situation, and that the two were glared at and “iced out” to the point that they stopped coming to this Bingo and months later have still not returned.
I want to stress again that I don’t think there is any cheating or other funny business going on. It is simply a matter of this group of people breaking every social rule of Bingo and acting like the games are family owned and operated and that they have the right to push the rest of the players to the sidelines.
I don’t know what advice you can really offer. Mostly I think I am sending this letter just to vent about the situation and maybe see if there are other players who might read this who have been in halls like this and have some idea of what to do about it.
Bingo Outsider, Michigan, via email

Dear Outsider,
Your predicament reminds me of a situation I experienced years ago when I was invited to join the board of a service group. I agreed, attended a few meetings and events, and caught on quickly to how much of a clique the board was—particularly a handful of long-standing board members who were not open to anyone’s ideas but their own and viewed the rest of the board as worker bees who were there to carry out their edicts.
Well, an obedient worker bee I am not. I pushed back gently, attempting to rally other board members to get a few new ideas considered. In response I was “iced out” (to borrow your words) by the power block. It was ridiculous and I said so, but still nothing changed. So I quit and never looked back.
I share this story because this Bingo situation sounds very similar. We all know how Bingo games ought to operate: They should be open and welcoming to everyone. If a small group has decided that they are running the show and are marginalizing the rest of the players, and the people in charge are allowing it, then you definitely have a problem.
The bottom line is that you go to Bingo to get out and have fun, socialize and compete for prizes. If the “fun” is not there, then maybe you should not be there either.
If there is something about the games that still makes you want to stay, you could always try sending an anonymous letter to the person in charge explaining your concerns. But if this a long-standing situation—which it sounds like it is—and your criticism, no matter how diplomatically stated, is basically a complaint about family and close friends, it’s highly unlikely anything will change.
As always, reader comments/advice/similar experiences related to this topic are welcome. Let’s hear what you think! —Aunt Bingo

Share your views! Write to Aunt Bingo c/o the Bingo Bugle, P.O. Box 527, Vashon, Washington 98070, or email her at STENGL456@aol.com. Be sure to include your name and address (you can request that your name not be published), as typically she will not include anonymous letters in her columns.

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