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A LEGION OF PLEASANT GAMBLERS: Prairie Grove Groups Hosts popular Bingo hall

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January 21, 2012 by Lillian Winkler

Playing Bingo in church basements, le-gion huts and union halls has been around a long time, but in years past, the legality of the pastime was somewhat fuzzy. After all, it is a type of gambling.

The Arkansas legislature granted legal status to the games in 2007 with the pass- ing of the “Charitable Bingo and Raffles Enabling Act.” It ensured that non-profit, tax-exempt organizations could be licensed to operate bingo games. Things got even better two years later when Governor Mike Beebe signed a law lowering the penny-per-card tax on charitable bingo to three- tenths of a cent.

The Prairie Grove American Legion has done a great job of taking advantage of these new laws. Every Thursday, people from all around south Washington County gather to play Bingo at local Post 146. Fortunately, with this kind of gambling, no one frowns upon bringing your children. People of all ages can enjoy the fun and the food, even the babies and in-laws. And anyone 18 or older can play, and make some money.

The game has provided numerous funds for other people and organizations in need.

“I have to keep track of every penny that comes in and out of this place,” said one of the Legion members. All monies that The Legion collects are counted and voted on by the members in order to decide where it should be distributed. One of the many things their money goes towards is scholarships for local children, including academic and vocational. According to its website, Prairie Grove’s American Legion Post #146 received an award for having the best scholarship program in the State of Arkansas.

Unfortunately, the attendance has dimin- ished over the past few years.

“Every since gas went up, the number of people that show up went down,” said one avid Legionnaire. That’s not the only thing that worries these gracious volunteers. He says only a few younger veterans are joining in on the activities and he would encourage them to abandon the TV, walk down to the local American Legion and see what it stands for.

Bingo packs go for $20, $37, and $50 dollars to play the games, with a 40 dol- lar minimum prize. Friends and families can gather around knowing that the money about go towards helping their neighbors, not only through the scholarship program, but also through youth ac- tivities and veterans programs.

Come Thursdays at 5:00 p.m. for warm-up play or at 6:30 p.m. for regular play and stay ‘til it ends at 8:45 p.m. Players must be at least 18 years old, but children are welcome to come enjoy the fun of being together. Food and drinks are available for sale by the Ladies Auxiliary. Call 479-409- 5131 for more information.

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