American Bingo: This Ain’t Your Grandmother’s Game

What have you heard about bingo? When I learned about American Bingo last week, I first thought of slow-moving people absent-mindedly stabbing at pieces of paper while a bored man rattles off numbers. I figured it was a pastime reserved for retired folk.

I had no clue how wrong I was.

What if I told you, with all honesty, that one of the most intense, exciting and downright fun nights I’ve had in Austin took place in a bingo parlor? Well hold on to your hat – it’s true. The Austinots recently took a trip to American Bingo at 1919 East Riverside Dr. and learned how crazy a night of bingo can be.

Here’s what I mean:

The Bingo Gringo, along with the rest of the bingo cast, pulled out every stop trying to entertain the audience.

We pulled up to a massive building, feeling like deer in headlights, and the first person we met was the infamous “Bingo Gringo.” He stood at the door and welcomed us inside. The Gringo really rolled out the red carpet for every bingo player, and I could tell that he took pride in it. Turns out that he contains a wealth of information when it comes to Texas, bingo, and how the two relate to one another.

For example, did you know that bingo is the only form of gambling that is legal in Texas (aside from horse racing)? All that, and the Bingo Gringo could sing! You wouldn’t believe how well this guy can hit those high notes.

I took a walk around the parlor before taking my seat. The first thing you will notice about American Bingo is how it’s divided in half. A glass wall divides the smokers and the non-smokers, and each room has its own ventilation system. Both rooms were occupied by groups of friends hanging out, drinking beer and playing some bingo.

The second thing you will notice are all the signs hanging from the parlor walls. I couldn’t help but read every one. My favorite signs describes all the different charities that American Bingo benefits. A lot of people don’t know that American Bingo has very close relationships with many Texas charities. For example, we played for the Scottish Rite Learning Center of Austin.  It was nice to know my money was going to a good cause.

$1,000 in free gas?! And American Bingo is just giving it away.

I chatted with the people around me as the night progressed, and I learned about the effect American Bingo has had in the Austin area. American Bingo regularly holds raffles and contests that help community members.

They give away everything from free gas cards to free rent waivers and iPads. This place is serious about helping people. As a student, I know I could definitely use any one of those things.  I watched one lucky guy win a thousand bucks in free gas. They blew the streamers and played music for him – the whole nine yards.

I stopped chatting eventually, though. My bingo game began to demand my full attention. It’s hard to describe the intensity of a long game of bingo.

Remember that this was a Friday, which is $1 beer night, so this place was packed. Every person around me was dotting their pages or computers as fast as they could, hoping to score a bingo.

Why? Well, American Bingo doesn’t deal in small change. I saw a guy take home around five hundred dollars because of one lucky bingo.

Every new game of bingo is another chance to win big. Eventually I knew, I knew, I knew, that my numbers were coming up. I was one number away from winning two times – on my first night! But even losing is fun, since playing is so inexpensive. You just grab another sheet and wait until the next game starts.Each round of bingo is a few games. After each round, you have an intermission. This is a time to breathe and grab a bit to eat.

I could have stayed all night long (and I practically did!) because they have everything I could need. They have food and drinks, fun times and great people. What else could you want from a Friday night?

It must have been a good time if it got Austinot Eric to sit still on a Friday night.

Austinot Dusty asks:
What is your favorite bingo experience? Have you ever checked out American Bingo?

  • Pingback: The Austinot Visits American Bingo!American Bingo()

  • Haleigh Burger

    I’m so sad that I couldn’t go!  It sounds like so much fun!  Let’s go soon?

    • Brittany Highland

      We missed having you there, Haleigh!

    • JLM

      Get with the Bingo Gringo and he will arrange the same special treatment for you and your friends.  512-476-5141 or



    • Eric Highland

      That wasn’t our experience at all. We got to see people win, have a great time and be awarded things like iPads and $1000 gas cards. Though we didn’t win personally, we had a blast when we went. 

    • JLM

      I am the President of Littlefield Corporation which is the owner of the Grandfathered Commercial Lessor which leases the premises to the charities who conduct bingo at American Bingo.

      If you can show me any evidence that there is any impropriety or corruption at American Bingo, then I will personally accompany you to report that illegality to the Executive Director of the Texas Lottery Commission Charitable Bingo Operations Division.

      I will sign the complaint and I will direct our wholly owned Grandfathered Commercial Lessor to terminate the lease of any charity who is involved in such shenanigans.

      I do note that you are a one time registration with Disqus and that this is the only comment you have ever made.  My natural inclination is therefore to suspect that your comment is meant to hurt the American Bingo hall and its charities.

      Please feel free to contact me at 512-476-5141 or

      I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest opportunity.

      Thank you.

  • Troy Herman

    Thanks for the post, seems that I need to go out and give it a try with my parents and what not when they are visiting. 
      Could you update me on the costs? Do you buy a series of sheets, etc. at the beginning? Is it a flat rate at the door? Anything us “Noobs” should know to get us prepped?

      Thanks for the post.. and personally I don’t see “WHERE EVERY GAME IS RIGGED AND ALL FULL OF LIES”.. because, after all, there are some winners and as long as you gamble within your means of living, there should be no problems. Just remember, it is “gambling” so risk is always present.

    • Eric Highland


      I think you guys would have a lot of fun. I’m not too sure on their pricing as they have weekly specials which you can see here:

      We each got a sheet and one computer. The computer plays 66 cards for you at one time. The sheet is manual and you have to dob the squares. 

      I would highly recommend getting one of each. You get them for each “session” and they have several sessions a night. 

      Also say hi to Kimble AKA the Bingo Gringo, Kelsey and Jesse if you stop by. They were great and they’ll walk you through everything. 

    • Kelsey

       Hi, Troy!

      Watch this series of videos in order to help you with any questions about bingo you may have – It’s pretty easy to figure out once you get there, though.

      I usually buy a 12on paper and a Double Action paper for each session played, if that helps, which costs $7. Dabbers cost $1 and you get to keep them.

      Good luck, and hope to see you at the hall!

    • JLM

      Call the Bingo Gringo at 512-476-5141 and tell him that Jeff said to give you the “special”.  It will be great fun.

      Bring up to 10 of your friends and your bingo is on me.

  • JLM

    Go to and read the blog to learn more about the wonderment of bingo.  Bingo is great fun!

  • StenD

    I enjoy playing bingo,  but one of the American Bingo employees (operators?) decided that Meetup spam was an appropriate way to promote the establishment.  I do not do business with spammers, and encourage everyone to avoid American Bingo.