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Bingo Shill?
 Or just a design mistake

Dear Aunt Bingo,
I picked up an issue of the Nevada edition of the Bingo Bugle. I found that on page 30 there was posted a picture of a lady who was the winner of $3,750 at a casino power Bingo event. Then, on page 33 there is posted a picture of the same lady but with a different name and described as the winner of $500 for the early bird at the same casino.
What happened? Is she one of the people that the casinos hire for the big money winner? I heard that the casinos hire people to come in and play and they win the big money, and that money goes back to the casino cage, and the person hired gets a percentage of the win. —S.J., Henderson, Nevada, via email

Dear S.J.,
I contacted a staff member of the Bingo Bugle’s Nevada Edition and checked out what you discovered in the paper. What I learned, however, is not nearly as sinister as what you proposed.
First off, it is certainly not unusual for a person to win more than one jackpot during a Bingo session. Granted, this would not result in them changing their name, but it could result in two photos being taken. If the wrong caption ended up on one of the photos, it may be due to the photographer making a notation error after photographing the winner a second time.
Setting that theory aside, it is far more likely that the duplicate photo was simply a design error.
When designers are laying out the pages of the paper, some may use premade templates to make the job easier. Sometimes they may use a new template; other times they may open an old template and “reuse” the text boxes and photo boxes, stripping out the old pictures, stories and captions and adding new ones.
The risk in using an old template, however, is that sometimes the designer will fail to remove all the old copy or images. As a result, the same picture will accidentally not be removed, resulting in its appearing more than once. Alternatively, and far more simply, a new image may be inserted twice on different pages in the course of page design without anyone noticing.
However the error occurred, the Nevada Edition certainly regrets the mistake.
Interestingly, a number of years ago the same edition had an error in which a photo caption described a young male player celebrating his birthday playing Bingo, while the photo depicted an elderly woman at the Bingo tables. That error made it all the way to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where it was featured in one of Leno’s segments on funny news stories.
Finally, in response to your assertion that casinos hire people to win jackpots and return them to the casinos…
It seems a bit of a stretch to believe a casino would risk losing its license, face criminal charges, or be shut down for attempting to “steal” Bingo jackpots of a few hundred or even several thousand dollars. And when the really big jackpots happen, casinos go out of their way to publicize the event, showcase the winner and entice more players to visit. Would they really publicize a shill?
While preparing this column, I also Googled news stories about Bingo scams/shills at casinos and found virtually nothing—except for a story from the 1980s on a raid of an Indian Bingo for using planted players. That said, I of course welcome input from any casino Bingo pros out there who know otherwise. —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 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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