Monday, December 04, 2006

Bingo is the new meth

From well-lit church basements to bright retirement home recreation halls, a burgeoning social problem lurks beneath the fluorescent hum.

Bingo isn't just the name of the hand-clappingest dog on the farm. It's also a game of chance that turns its participants into mindless zombies.

Often played for "charity," there is nothing charitable about bingo's devastating effects.

Our nation's police blotters and court records tell the story:

Leticia Garcia, 61, was a loving grandmother with no prior criminal history until she started playing bingo. Now she is facing 6 to 12 years in prison for possession of 214 pounds of marijuana.

Prosecutor Doyle Johnstun said it best when he told jurors: "The underlying issue is that she's got a bingo problem, which explains why an otherwise nice person might get sucked into something like this."

Bingo doesn't only destroy the lives of individuals -- it rips apart whole families.

Floyd Kinney Jr, 49, had a long record of only engaging in sexual relations with partners above the legal age of consent. That was before his wife discovered bingo.

"My wife is never at home," Kinney told the judge as he pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated indecent assault against a minor.

"She would be going to bingo three, four times a week," he added. "I told her to stop going to bingo, and she said, 'If they had bingo every day, I'd go every day.'"

Defense Attorney Richard Yetter said his client is "not articulate and may not have been doing a good job of conveying his rationale to the judge."

But Floyd Kinney Jr has convinced us: There is no limit to bingo's pernicious reach.

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