San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Bingo! Fun Game Helps Red Cross

Bingo has always been associated with the Red Cross here. Since 1994, the humanitarian organization has held exclusive rights to this universal game in Costa Rica, so while bingo is a good fundraiser for churches, communities and organizations, they must clear it with the Red Cross first.

Bingo parlors in or near Red Cross installations once drew crowds for an evening’s entertainment. But times have changed, and bingo has changed as well. In 1988, Tico Bingo, a lottery-type bingo with volunteers selling bingo cards on the streets or going door to door, changed the game. With huge support from the public, Tico Bingo comes out every three months and helps fund Red Cross units around the country.

So why not have casino-style digital bingo with around-the-clock hours, snacks and drinks, and walls lined with machines that put the game on a screen in front of your eyes? Add attendants circulating with food and drink orders and the chance to win the big, accumulated jackpot.

Two relatively new electronic bingo halls – Multicolor on Avenida Central, between Calles 0 and 2, and Bingo Rohrmoser in western San José’s Rohrmoser Plaza, on the road to the U.S. Embassy in Pavas – give you a chance to win, enjoy a lively afternoon or evening, have lunch, dinner or a snack, and help the Red Cross help us all.

Digital or electronic bingo gives you many different versions of the game. The ¢1,000 (about $1.70) bill in the slot lets you choose how much to place on each game, which in turn determines how much you win – or lose. But remember: You’re helping the Red Cross. For those who prefer conventional bingo, each hall has a section apart from the machines, with games starting in the afternoons when more people come to play.

Bingo cards are ¢200 ($0.30) a game, and numbers are selected automatically and shown on huge screens. Comfortable chairs surround tables for six to eight, and waiters serving refreshments add to game enjoyment, win or not. Prize money depends on the number of players. Jackpot drawings throughout the day give you even more chances to be a winner.

Bingo Rohrmoser Manager Bob Dunning, from the U.S. city of Las Vegas, has many years of casino experience. He says the bingo salon, which opened in January, has good prospects, and he is already thinking of expanding to other locations.

If the machines with their multiple forms of bingo and winnings are confusing, joining a table of players in the parlor can be more relaxing, Dunning says, especially with a restaurant and snack bar right there. With parlor bingo, too, there’s always a chance to win the big accumulated pot or one of the drawings. Parking is convenient at RohrmoserPlaza, and doors are open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Parlor bingo, or bingo cantado, starts at 4 p.m.

Multicolor Bingo on Avenida Central is open 24 hours a day and has 150 digital machines divided between the smoking section downstairs and the no-smoking area on the second floor, where there is also a separate section for parlor bingo and a restaurant overlooking Avenida Central. Although this bingo salon is full of customers at any hour, evenings and nighttime are when the crowds really come in, making the winnings more tempting. The machines take only ¢1,000 bills, but “winning cards” will let you play on and on. Weekend evenings also present local musical artists and karaoke.


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