Thanks to @bingopodcast, I've got my first bingo. I've listened to Nick for a couple of years waxing poetic about these machines, and interviewing folks who grew up playing them when they were new. But I never actually owned one, or knew anyone in the local collector community who did either. Earlier this year I broke down and asked Nick if he knew anyone with a machine that would be willing to sell, and that could be brought to Allentown for pickup. The machine I ended up with is HIS beloved Bally Night Club (so beloved in fact, the game appears on the For Amusement Only logo, drawn up by @ryanclaytor).
Does having the multi-bingo make bingo ownership redundant? Regardless, the game is in good hands. The machine travelled well from Nick's home in Richmond, to Allentown, then back to Canada...needing only a couple of switch adjustments to keep it running like a top.
As a first time owner, I'm amazed at the sheer SIZE of the backbox and backglass. It's just so tall and in your face. It stands out among a room full of EM and solid state pinball machines, indeed. My wife (of Eastern European background and "strong like bull") helped me lug the game down and set it up. She swore it would be her first and last bingo move. Luckily, I have a fridge full of beer and strong neighbors for any future bingos that come along. But man, slugging around wedgeheads is SO much easier. Other than the size, which amazed me, I love the sounds. The constant whir and click and drone is just so...soothing? After playing Night Club for two weeks straight, and then firing up a solid state Bally, I immediately suspected something was wrong with the game...only because it was so quiet compared to the "soundtrack" of the bingo!
Night Club is a hit with the kids, who have grown up around coin-op. Nothing brings the family together more than a gambling device that requires skill to play, right? My son has taken to the numbers and pointing out possible winners. Some of the features are still beyond him...and to be honest, I've still have to give the card a really good look to make sure I'm maximizing possible payouts when all of the features are in play. Imagine how lost I'd be with a magic screen game.
Beginners luck. My son's three-in-a-row with odds maxed on his very first game:
Next, my daughter stepped up on her first game, with a lot of luck and the will to not be outdone by her big brother, and put three-in-a-row in yellow with payouts tripled. And here I am struggling to put any sort of winning card together!
The bingo bug has bit. It's a neat little community that I'm still testing the waters in. I hope to meet some of the pillars of the bingo community, along with Nick, at York this fall. I'm hoping for a great big BINGO ROW so I can expand my knowledge base of these games...and maybe between now and then I can line up another machine to bring back to keep Night Club company...