"There's animosity between the younger and older players. Neither likes it when the other wins. Younger players don't like older players because they feel they're too bossy, and older players don't think younger players know the proper etiquette. If one of them makes [a] mistake, the other group is going to pounce on it. Like if they forgot a rule of the game. They can be like kids, going over the most minute detail."
Possibly the greatest Bingo brawl in history resulted from this conflict between old and young. It happened last March in the United Kingdom, and saw up to ten people beating the holy hell out of each other.
But the bulk of the hate in modern Bingo is reserved for cheaters. "The only thing that unites everyone is when some player goes against a cardinal rule. Like, a few times a woman said 'Bingo!' and didn't have one -- later we found out [that was] a tactic so that others would rip up their cards. There was such an uproar when we found [out] she didn't win, and she had to leave -- not because of falsely calling bingo, but because we were afraid that they would all turn on her. If you ever want to see a hundred 80-year-old grandmothers getting vile and using the F-bomb, call out 'Bingo' during a Bingo game when you don't have one."
That's because thousands of dollars are at stake in some of these games. Gil told us one story that elevated Bingo cheating to the level of grand theft. "Some people found out where we bought our old cards, bought a batch, and secretly played some cards under the table. The newer cards have a shiny surface, so they're hard to cheat. But a mother-son team came up with the idea to print off square stickers with the correct coloring and numbers. So if they were a single number away from a Bingo and they had a number that fit and would make sense, they'd stamp it on and yell 'Bingo.'"
The scam worked for weeks, and the mother-son team took in an estimated $10,000 in prizes before they were finally caught. "[One] game, they stuck down a sticker at an angle. We couldn't see the edges of the sticker, but the number was askew by 10 percent. We scraped it off, and they tried to play dumb ... until we found a whole roll of stickers on them." Luckily for the thieves, Gil and his associates rendered the ensuing justice, rather than a mob of geriatric, cane-wielding vigilantes. Even so, it didn't go well for them. "Police were called. They stole."
Imagine having to tell your cellmate what you were in for.
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Check out Robert Evans' A Brief History of Vice: How Bad Behavior Built Civilization, a celebration of the brave, drunken pioneers who built our civilization one seemingly bad decision at a time.