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BINGO! Poway Senior Center Gives $750K in Cash Prizes Every Year

Executive director Siobhan Hancock says the Poway Senior Center grosses $1 million from Bingo every year.

The gas money you set aside for a trip to the casino can go back into the piggy bank. Instead, wager a bet on biweekly Bingo games at the —where making $1,200 just got a whole lot easier.

“We gross $1 million a year and give away $750,000 in cash prizes,” said executive director Siobhan (pronounced Sha-von) Hancock. “It’s legalized gambling in Poway.”

She says the highest payout for a game is $1,199—just less than California’s legal gambling limit. The $250,000 left over from buy-ins is applied toward funding Bingo, and also makes up nearly one third of the center’s $450,000 annual budget.

The game has been hosted by the nonprofit for 30 years, and is emceed by a rotating volunteer staff of 50. Hancock says about 130 people attend.

“They’ll show up at noon, play cards and save their seats,” she said of Tuesday’s older crowd. “Then they’ll put out their good luck charms. They’ll put out their trolls, wishniks, and statues, and dolls.”

But it’s not always seniors who take advantage of what some call “affordable adult entertainment.”

“I think we had about six or eight 20-year-olds,” she said of one evening. “They ordered pizza. They had never been to Bingo before … It’s not much more than a movie, and it lasts all night.”

Bingo is open to anyone 18 years or older, and held at 12:15 p.m. every Tuesday and 5 p.m. every Saturday. Buy-ins are $10 for 12 games and $11 for 14 games respectively. For more information, call 858-748-6094.

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