American Legion Post unveils mammoth bingo hall
on April 5, 2010
A posh gaming hall has materialized in Richmond, but it has nothing to do with casinos or former Naval depots.
American Legion Post 875 officially opened a 32,000 square foot bingo hall Wednesday in a building that once served as a temporary City Hall.
But now, with its soft rouge carpet and bingo boards, banquet rooms and concession stands, the facility is unmistakably festive. Organizers say all the fun and games will fund more serious pursuits.
“What the bingo represents to us is a way to maintain ourselves and the quality of services we provide,” said Tony Martin, vice president of operations at Marina Bay Bingo. “It ensures for us that when we start our programs, the money will not run out, because we can be self-contained and the bingo can help keep us afloat.”
Martin said hundreds of local veterans and civilians depend on the legion post for services. With bingo money, the center will be able to provide additional assistance in job training, job placement, mental health support, financial assistance and scholarships at its new waterfront location.
The post also hopes to reconstitute a long dormant baseball team and host academic competitions for children.
Martin said local cuts have decreased city intake service schedules for returning veterans to one day per week.
“We need to continue to fill that gap,” he said.
About 150 veterans will receive regular assistance from the post, Martin said.
As for the bingo hall itself, Martin said the facility will provide gaming in an upscale atmosphere three days per week. Advertising and outreach work has been focused beyond the city’s borders, as bingo hall officials hope to draw players from throughout the East Bay and inland communities.
The hall has a capacity of 500 people. Anyone older than 18 can play with a $50 entry fee. Prizes of $500 to $1,000 will pay out, with a nightly cap of $15,000 in total prize money, depending on attendance, Martin said.
At the grand opening, several other local business were also on hand, including Mary’s Healing Touch and Beauty Spa. Owner Mary LaVergne said players will be able to get massages on game nights.
“People will be able to come in here and sit in my chair and get a nice massage anytime they need one,” LaVergne said.
Hall officials will be attending Tuesday’s City Council meeting, where they will lobby to allow the hall to expand its hours from three to seven nights per week, Martin said.
Councilman Nat Bates, who gave an address to a crowd of more than 250 attending the grand opening, said he was hopeful the council would grant the expansion. Bates has been a supporter of gaming, including the Point Molate casino proposal that is currently in limbo.
“If we can expand the days (of operation), we can increase the attendance, increase the opportunities for folks to recreate and increase the funding for the community programs it supports,” Bates said.
American Legion Post 875’s hall is located at 1401 Marina Way South.
For more information call: 510.233.3600
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