New state law brings bingo back to town

Some Mid-Southerners are about to get a new option for fundraising and some fun.

Arkansas has had a Bingo blackout for a decade. But now, Bingo's back and depending on who you talk with, a new state law is either an economic poison or a cure.

"Years ago when we had Bingo, this place was full all the time," said VFW manager Darrell Mulvany.

But now, the VFW in West Memphis is quiet. The air conditioner's on the fritz, money's tight and the community room is empty.

Mulvany added, "took us a while to get adjusted."

The VFW lost its main source of funds when Arkansas outlawed Bingo back in 1997.

The ban came after Bingo businesses, masquerading as non-profits, started popping up in cities like West Memphis draining money from charities.

Now, ten years later, Arkansas passed a law to allow non-profits to hold Bingo for charity.

"We can provide some assistance again, which we have not been able to do for the last ten years," said Wade Callicut, member of VFW Finance Committee.

But not everyone's happy. The American Family Council in Little Rock filed lawsuits in West Memphis and other cities across the state to keep Bingo out.

They say gambling is gambling no matter what you do with the money.

"It's entertainment for a lot of the older folks who can't get out and do anything else," Mulvany added.

They said Bingo helped pay Crime Stoppers rewards and it also helped the Fire Department.

Some of the money even went to Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital across the river in Memphis.

They call it a win-win situation for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the cities they help around the Mid-South.

Supporters of the Bingo law said they're no competition for the racetrack down the road. They'll be heavily regulated by the state.

I'ts only two days a week and a thousand dollars per game. Their first game is Friday, August 31st.


to email Kontji Anthony.