Big Money Bingo Bingo’s Again
Henderson hosted it’s second annual Big Money Bingo event this past Wednesday, bringing out over 1500 students to the Garrison Center Day Gym. There is not an official record, but Big Money Bingo is considered to be the biggest event of the year. The event is put on by Jordan O’Roark, assistant dean of students. O’Roark does not take credit for the origination of the event, claiming that it was already in motion when he arrived three years ago. “I want to say it’s been happening about seven or eight years,” said O’Roark.
Big Money Bingo is an SAB sponsored event that is put on during the fall semester and again during the spring. It is a simple bingo formatted game, with students being permitted for play with proof of their student ID as the only ticket required to get in the door. Once in, students are handed one bingo card, and the nearly two-hour event begins. All formats of the traditional number game are used, including blackout, vertical, horizontal, anyway, and the school tradition of “the Henderson H”. This is typically done multiple times during gameplay, declaring a winner by filling the entire B column, the entire O column, the middle I and N space, and the free center space. Once a student “bingos”, they approach the front of the gym where they accept their prize.
The number of prizes varies from semester to semester. “We usually try to get at least 25 prizes,” said O’Roark, “but it all depends on if it is the fall or the spring.” Each prize is numbered, with winning students drawing numbers to determine their prize. In the event of a tie, the multiple students play their fate into the hands of “pick a hand” challenge. O’Roark places a blue poker chip in one hand and a red in the other. The student choosing the blue chip advances forward to draw and win a prize, the other student is returned their bingo card, and resumes play.
Typically bingo is considered gambling, but no money is exchanging hands during Big Money Bingo, so it is acceptable for a college campus.
The event has been known to bring out nearly 2500 students, which according to O’Roark, is not a capacity issue. Although the day gym flexes at the gills, there are always enough bingo cards. “I think we have about 3,000 cards,” said O’Roark, “I have never counted.”
Technically it is a student event, not intended for faculty. However, anyone taking over six hours is required to pay the student activities fee, and therefore is eligible to play. Garrison Center director Ernie Higgs took part in the bingo festivities during this past game. Higgs actually got a bingo during one round, but it was a tie round, with Higgs loosing the “pick a hand” challenge, and the blue chip and coinciding prize going to the other winner.
O’Roark and his team go out and spend thousands of dollars on “prizes that students might like to have.” This fall, about $17,000 was spent. “The Spring is a little smaller because the semester is wrapping up and we have to make sure there is enough money to finish out the semester,” said O’Roark. “This Spring we spent about $9,000.”
The event is only hosted once each semester. Miniature Big Money Bingos have been hosted before for incoming freshman, but the funding comes out of the Heart Start budget, usually only allowing for approximately $2000 in prizes.
The student activities board puts on multiple events during the school year, but Big Money Bingo is typically the most successful. According to O’Roark, “It is not every day when you have a chance to win several prizes.” O’Roark believes the event is such a success because of the multiple prizes, resulting in several winners. Big Money Bingo will be back again in the fall, with more prizes and bigger TV’s.