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Bingo keeps its slot at TI


That remains a frequent cry at Treasure Island Resort & Casino. The Prairie Island Indian Community, which owns and operates the entertainment complex, shows no signs of abandoning the old-time game.

In fact, the casino has added bingo opportunities and recently remodeled the bingo hall with an expanded non-smoking area and a new non-smoking admissions booth.

"Sunrise Bingo is new and we are evaluating the guest response to it. It's on Mondays at 9:30 a.m.," said Cindy Taube, public relations manager. "A couple of years ago we started a program called Bingo Gone Wild, which was aimed at capturing the attention of a much younger demographic."

That effort succeeded, and the periodic Bingo Gone Wild nights take place after hours and feature a DJ, drink specials and various prizes, she said.

Contrast that to Fortune Bay Resort Casino near Tower, Minn. The Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe's operation held its last bingo session Jan. 30, ending a 26-year run.

In downtown Duluth, Fond-du-Luth Casino eliminated bingo more than five years ago. The Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa said it didn't pay, although patrons of that tribe's Black Bear Casino near Carlton, Minn., still have bingo opportunities.

Treasure Island's strategy includes matinee bingo and evening programs.

This week entry packs went on sale for the Spring Fling Bingo Sunday April 28. The high stake evening will pay out $70,000.

Tribal bingo halls began popping up across Minnesota in the 1980s after federal court decisions made it clear Indians could run and regulate gambling activities without interference from state governments.

The Prairie Island Indian Community opened its bingo hall in 1984 and added slot machines and black jack in 1991. The hotel came in 1997, followed by numerous expansions, renovations and new ventures such as golf and a gas station.

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe doesn't list bingo at either its Northern Lights Casino in Walker or White Oak Casino in Deer River.

"We are located in a very different market between two metro areas," Taube said.

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson has been editor of the Republican Eagle since December 2003. 

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