At a smoky, often crowded bingo hall in the middle of a northwest Oklahoma City strip mall, players have spent millions of dollars in the hopes the numbers go their way — all in the name of charity.
The place is Bingo City.
Games with names like Six-Pack are called out at dizzying speeds from 10 a.m. to midnight six days a week. Players spent almost $7.6 million there in 2010, records show.
And, right at the entrance, Bingo City tells players in red letters it is “sponsored by” Allied Veterans of the World, Inc. & Affiliates.
Allied Veterans of the World allegedly was a front for 49 gambling centers in Florida that — under the guise of being Internet cafes — operated illegal slot machines. Almost 60 people were arrested in March as a result of a lengthy investigation nicknamed Operation “Reveal the Deal.”
“The organization falsely claimed to be a charitable veterans' organization, but instead deceived the public and government while lining the pockets of its operators,” the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.
No one involved with Bingo City, 4443 NW 50, was accused of wrongdoing even though its owners belong to an Allied Veterans “post.”
“We're here in Oklahoma. We have no knowledge of what was going on in Florida,” hall manager James Doyle “J.J.” Ford said.
He said money from the bingo operation does go to charity.
Ford, 34, of Oklahoma City, referred all other questions to Bingo City's attorney, Shawn Fulkerson. The attorney did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
Oklahoma law allows only charitable organizations to have commercial bingo operations. A license from the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission costs $100 a year.
The license for Bingo City is held by Allied Veterans of the World Post 28 Inc., records show.