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JUNE 2024

Cracked Balls Cause Chaos

Dear Aunt Bingo,

There was a big blowup today at Bingo when two games into the second session a player near the caller noticed a cracked Bingo ball in the blower. They stopped the machine and emptied it and found not one, but three, cracked balls. Two of them were split so badly that there was barely a speck of plastic holding the pieces together.

The Bingo operator was very apologetic, but most of the players weren’t interested in her apologies…we were all too busy searching for our Bingo paper from the first session. It was total chaos as people dumped out the used Bingo paper from the trash bags and began digging through for sheets with matching serial numbers. Then players began checking to see if the damaged balls had been called.

As you’d expect, one of the balls, O-71, never came up. Everyone who had an O-71 on their sheets (and there were a LOT of us) were quite upset.

The people running the Bingo offered a partial refund, which some players liked but others rejected. They said they couldn’t give full refunds to everyone because they’d already paid out prize money—which the winners made clear they were not going to give back. There were a number of other suggestions, but no one could agree on anything.

Finally, after at least a half an hour of all this, a group of players said they were sick of waiting and demanded their money back, and that if they didn’t get it they were calling the police! More players joined them and finally the manager—who looked so stressed I began worrying about her health—gave in, ended the games, and agreed to refund everyone’s money (except for the winners, of course!)

It must have taken at least another hour (probably more!) before all the players’ paper was verified and we got our money back. You never saw a more miserable group of people in your life—players and workers alike.

—Anna C., via email


Dear Anna,

What a nightmare! Your story describes a “perfect storm” of unfortunate circumstances, resulting in a terrible day at Bingo for everyone involved. Such a shame. I am not sure what the specific rules are regarding examining the Bingo balls before the start of the games, but clearly someone at that hall failed to do so…miserably.

Someone has to put all the balls in the tray to confirm there is a complete set before releasing them into the chamber. That means that each ball was handled individually by someone, and that someone failed to notice that three of them were severely damaged. Not good.

It strikes me that the Bingo operator really had no choice but to call an end to the games and refund everyone’s money. Legally, I assume they couldn’t add sessions or start from scratch with all new paper and Bingo balls. (Would they even have other Bingo balls to substitute?) Plus, doing that would result in the loss of even more money.

My sincere hope is that players will see this as an unfortunate accident and will not punish this Bingo by boycotting it in the future. My heart also goes out to the Bingo workers who volunteered to be there and did not sign on for such drama. Let’s hope they return as well and help keep the games going, but with stricter protocols for sure. —Aunt Bingo

Share your views! Write to Aunt Bingo c/o the Bingo Bugle, P.O. Box 527, Vashon, WA 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.


For more great content like this, look for the print edition of the Bingo Bugle in your area: Local Bingo Bugle Publications.

Dear Aunt Bingo

Notebook and Pen
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