Ben Howard is looking to make history with the Rock N’ to Summer Bingo Extravaganza which is going to offer what is believed to be the largest bingo payout in Army history.
“We’re talking mega bingo on June 8,” Howard, the business manager at Challenger Bingo, said. “We’re guaranteeing a total of $37,000 in payouts that day.”
They’ll be playing 22 games and each game will pay out between $500 and $1,199 per game, he said. There will be two guaranteed $10,000 jackpots, and a final game payout of $2,500.
“This is the first time we’ve had an event like the extravaganza. We know it’s the largest bingo payout we’ve ever done in our history at Redstone,” Howard said. “It may be the largest the Army has ever done.”
Howard said in talking with his MWR bingo counterparts from all over, he’s never heard of a payout as large as the one being offered at Saturday’s event.
“We’ve had jackpots over $30,000 before, but we’ve never had a dedicated event with that large of a payout,” he added.
To play in the extravaganza, a $250 ticket package must be purchased in advance. The price includes the equivalent to one of Challenger’s Platinum and Silver package combined. The Platinum Package, regularly $200, contains 12 bingo packs, including six cards for each special game that’s offered, like Bingo Plinko or Bingo Wheel of Fortune, Howard said. The silver package includes two bingo packs and two cards for each special game. It is regularly priced at $60. Extra cards may be purchased the day of the event, he added.
The bingo facility will only be open for ticket holders for Saturday’s event. There are 200 tickets, and there are fewer than 40 tickets remaining.
“The tickets are going fast,” Howard said.
Howard said on regular game days, Challenger also offers a Gold package for $100. It contains six bingo packs and three cards for each special game. There’s also a Bronze package for $30, which has one bingo pack and one card per special game. Players may choose between paper or electronic bingo cards.
The profits from Challenger Bingo support the Army’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation. Howard said $4.3 million was given away in cash and prizes in 2018.
“On average we pay out between $15,000 and $20,000 each day we’re open,” he said. That’s Tuesday through Sunday, closed on Monday. “Sometimes when we have big jackpots that are up to pay out $20,000 or more, the atmosphere gets really exciting.”
Howard strives to keep the atmosphere fun with special events. On Two for Tuesdays, when you buy one card pack you get another for free.
On every other Wednesday night, it’s Manager’s Wildcard Night and Howard calls bingo, gives away door prizes and extra giveaways.
Every other Thursday is Second Chance Thursday. That means there are two wins on certain games. Challenger also offers a free catered dinner from The Summit with bingo each Friday night.
“Bingo is the most fun you can have on Redstone Arsenal,” he said. “It’s really exciting at times, some of the jackpots when they hit $25,000 and $30,000, they get high enough to be a life changer for some people who can pay off their credit card bills or buy a new car.”
Challenger Bingo is the second largest bingo operation in the Army, he said. He’s got his eye on expanding the bingo hall in the future.
Beer and wine are sold at the bingo hall. There’s also free tea, coffee and popcorn. There are vending machines for other snacks on site, Howard said. Players are allowed to bring in their own food, he added.
On Tuesday through Friday, the bingo facility opens at 3 p.m., with bingo sessions starting at 6:45 p.m. The site usually closes between 9:30 and 10 p.m.
On Saturday and Sunday, Challenger Bingo opens at 11 a.m. with bingo sessions starting at 1:45 p.m., continuing until all 22 bingo games are played. Closing time is usually between 4:30 and 5 p.m., Howard said.
“This is all about entertainment. It’s a place to relax and have fun and that’s what it’s about,” he said. “In doing so, it gives support for our military and their families and that’s a good feeling because everyone who plays is supporting the morale and welfare for the Army here, and all over the world.”
If you are military or work on Redstone Arsenal you can play at Challenger Bingo. Howard said first time players are given a free Bronze Package set of cards. There is a minimum purchase of $10 to play.
Challenger Bingo is located at MWR headquarters at 1500 Weeden Mountain Road, off Goss Road. Anyone interested in purchasing a ticket for the Summer Bingo Extravaganza should stop by during business hours, Howard said.