By Ron VandenBoom
I don't recall what Internet site I was looking at the other night when I clicked on an icon that took me to a site called Bingo Television.
As some of you may already be aware, I do occasionally like to patronize some of Havre's bingo parlors the relaxed atmosphere coupled with the chance to yell bingo are for me an enjoyable evening out. But playing bingo on the Internet never struck me as something that would be all that exciting. Nor do I fancy the idea of spending money to play against what might be thousands of other people at any given time.
Bingo Television however struck me differently than the run-of-the-mill bingo sites I've visited.
Coupling the experience of live TV with the possibility of winning cash prizes is a pretty potent combination especially when it's free and done right from the comfort of your own home. And Bingo Television is 100 percent free.
Located at www.bingotelevision.com, the site offers a live TV broadcast that starts at 11:30 p.m. and lasts until 1 a.m. You will need to have installed the Windows Media Player to watch the broadcast. If you don't already have it, it can be downloaded from Microsoft in about 15 - 20 minutes.
Once your system is ready to go, you will need to download some bingo cards. Simply click on the "Get Cards" icon and print the page on your printer.
You can print as many cards as you like and each time you refresh your browser, a new set of cards will appear.
You can also visit the "How to Play" page to learn the rules, view the various patterns played, or learn how to play while in the chat-room.
Prizes range from $200 for an average game $50,000 for the Friday night black-out game. And remember, it costs you nothing to play.
The winner is the first to call the toll-free number with a winning card.
The broadcast is really no different than watching any other TV game-show. The hosts of the program call the bingo numbers out of a bingo hopper and a somewhat carnival-like barker, affectionately known as Mr. Bingo, stands in front of a number board to review all the numbers called during the game.
It has all the hype of a three-ring-circus and all the tedium of watching grass grow. I say this kind of tongue-in-cheek because the games themselves are exciting. What bothers me are the long pauses between games while hosts chat or commercial breaks are taken. It's like a whole lot of hoopla for very little hoop. In more than an hour of broadcasting, Bingo Television is lucky if it can push through five games.
If you prefer something with a little more consistency, a little less flair, and a lot less money, you might want to click on the 24-hour Bingo line in the site index.
The visit itself is almost worth the effort for the animations and sound. The site is 100 percent kid-oriented and, at the moment, no prizes of any kind can be won here.
Mr. Bingo is here, in animated form only, of course, and the visitor selects from one of three players to represent him. The player also selects a game and the electronically drawn number begin to appear on the bingo board.
You mark your card by placing your cursor over the corresponding number on your card and clicking.
It's fun for kids and bored adults. You know the kind of adults that were watching Bingo Television.