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BEST BINGO GAME Minneapolis 2001 -

Bingo, unlike bowling, is a blue-collar Midwestern diversion that has never really caught on beyond its core constituency. One reason, perhaps, is that, according to popular perception, said constituency consists primarily of chain-smoking retirees in support stockings. Another reason is that, unlike bowling, you can't play bingo ironically; if you don't get into it, the game will bore you to tears. Still, it's a shame that more people don't give bingo a try; compared with the brutally regressive tax of the lottery or the dispiriting chintz of casino gambling, bingo is a sociable, quaint, even fun way to lose your money. One excellent place for the bingo neophyte to begin is this low-key, midsize neighborhood hall, which alludes in spirit to the days when bingo palaces were centers of St. Paul society. Sessions begin at 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. nightly (with an extra game on Tuesday afternoons). And at $10 a card, you can decide whether the game suits your taste without breaking the bank.

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