Bingo Sees a Revival in Some Unusual Places

A patron plays bingo at a South Florida nightclub. The age-old game is getting a makeover and popping up in places -- like clubs, Indian reservations, and the Web -- where you might not expect.
CBS
It's proof positive that everything old is new again. Bingo is getting a makeover - and finding popularity in places you might never expect, as CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports.

It looks like any South Beach nightclub: thumping beats, crazy DJs, flowing drinks. Only at this party instead of asking for numbers, they're calling them out.

"It's the only time you're gonna go out and have a shot at going home with more than you came with," said clubgoer - and bingo player - Trish Osburn.

The staple of church basements and smoky halls is suddenly becoming trendy.

"I've seen a lot of new customers who've never played bingo before," said the club owner. "It's something different, it's affordable."

Count math teacher Carol Casciola among the newly-devoted.

"I dream of numbers," she said. "You'd think I'd dream of a man, but no."

"Yesterday i won $100 and only spent $16," Casciola said. "I gave them a $5 tip. I used to give $10 but you know, this economy!"

Carol's mother used to play decades ago when beehives and bingo were all the rage. Back then, Florida's Seminole Indian tribe built a single bingo hall - and turned it into today's billion dollar Indian gaming empire.

Bingo is hugely important to the tribe said Max Osceola, a Seminole leader.

"I should say it was probably the beginning of our journey to go from dependent to independent," he said.

While gambling revenue as a whole is down - off 5 percent at casinos from 2007 to 2008 - in this recession, bingo is holding its own. It's even expanding online, and in some unlikely places, like at a Florida drag club.

"We used to think they came to see us and then bingo was added extra," said "Nicolette," a drag queen. "Now I think they come for bingo."

It's an old game learning new tricks.