Ever since moving to Hamilton there’s been a part of me that has always wanted to stop into Delta Bingo on King Street. I’ve never played “real” bingo, and I feel as if the days of bingo halls are somewhat limited -a dying sport -you know just one of those weird and random things that somehow carried its way through the decades into the 21st century but will likely not be around forever.
So here we are in the year 2012. I’m nine months pregnant and sitting in a Bingo hall. It felt in many ways somewhat fitting.
With some friends visiting from Pittsburgh (Hamilton’s neighbouring rusty American older brother), we figured it was as good as a time as ever to bingo it up and celebrate all that downtown Hamilton has to offer.
We made a stop first for a mandatory Hamilton classic Ghostbuster donut from non other than Grandad’s Donut -the one next to the bingo hall and not to be confused with the recently closed Grandad’s Donut on James north (sniffle -I shed a tear). We travelled with donut in hand to check out this bingo situation.
Well it turns out bingo is dirt cheap! For just a $1.25 you can play four games with three cards per game and a chance to win upwards of $200!!
The bingo patrons and workers were sweethearts too. I think everyone caught the drift that we were novices. They took us under their bingo expert wings -always checking up on us, making sure we were on the right coloured card and familiarizing us with all the bingo lingo (diamond, rotating kite etc).
I have to admit although bingo is cheap it can just suck you right in and before you know it you’ve spent an afternoon tossing away dollars and not winning much. We left with our eyes red and in a haze, only to be coaxed back in by a bingo veteran who told us we needed to try for the $2000 jackpot -beginners luck right?
Well we didn’t win, but we did learn some good bingo tips.
1. Buy your bingo dabber before, from a cheap place like a dollar store. We bought ours at the convenience store two doors down for $1.5o each
2. Spend a limited and set amount of time and money that is predetermined before you enter the bingo hall. It’s so easy to get carried away when cards are cheap and they give you change in Delta Bingo coins. Before sitting down to play inquire what time the big jackpots are throughout the day and spend a $1 on just the one card and sit for that one game and then skedaddle.
3. If you’re planning on spending a while at the hall bring your own snacks and drinks. We indulged in some fries and onion rings from the Delta Bingo cafeteria. They gave us a little needed energy boost but they also burnt an $8 hole in our pockets that could’ve been better spent trying to win a bingo jackpot or just hitting the road $8 richer.
4. Too many bingo cards at one time means trouble. You’ll see all the elderly (and more advanced) bingo players doing it, but don’t get too ambitious… honestly playing more than six game cards per round made my head spin. I couldn’t keep up and kept missing multiple numbers. For all I know I could’ve won the $2000 jackpot. I preferred sticking to three cards per bingo round. I failed entirely when we had a sheet with nine game cards to play at one time.
I would go back to play bingo at the Delta on another special occasion. Perhaps for a bachelorette or a birthday pitstop before drinks, dinner, a movie or bowling.
When and if the Delta does close I wonder what that huge space would be repurposed for. Perhaps another downtown grocery store? Or maybe an indoor roller rink? A downtown McMaster University building? We’ll just have to wait and see…