BACCHUS Bingo is still happening but in a virtual format this time, and the event promises as much excitement and prize winning as it always has.

Many students are unaware that bingo is now taking place virtually every Friday through Zoom. The games are held from 9:30 p.m. to about 11 p.m. To participate, students should email Ann Sesti, the director of Student Wellness and Engagement at IUP, or email atod-oasis@iup.edu.

After emailing, interested students will receive a virtual bingo card through email, and if it does not show up in their inbox automatically, they are advised to check their spam or junk mail folder.

While the event is, of course, still occurring, there are some slight modifications due to social distancing guidelines and changes to how the game is played. Since the first bingo game of the semester was played Jan. 29, the students in charge of running the bingo games are still deciding on some of the different configurations they will want to include in the games.

The first game of this semester was played mostly with “regular” bingo (fill five spaces across in any direction). The final game of the event, for the reward of the highest cash prize of the night, was a blackout bingo round, which meant the winner would have to be the first to fill out every space on their card.

When joining the bingo Zoom meeting room, students are asked to add their IUP email letters to their name in the zoom so they can verify the winners as the night goes on. The virtual bingo cards that students receive by email prior to the start of the event are reusable and can be reset as soon as another player wins bingo.

The virtual bingo cards provided can be reused for the rest of the semester, and the Zoom room like for the first meeting will also be used for the remainder of the games of the semester. During the game, the students running the event share their screen with the Zoom players, and the bingo numbers that are called are displayed on the screen in case any players miss a number announcement from the student moderators.

When a player calls bingo, everyone is told to keep their virtual cards in case it is a false bingo, and the moderators ask the triumphant player for their virtual bingo card number to verify their win. If they win, there is a reset button for the virtual bingo card, and another round begins with the announcement of the next gift card that is at stake for that round.

“Shayla Walker, who is the other co-president, and I would go to Walmart, and we would choose prizes that we knew would interest college students,” Elizabeth Ebert (sophomore, communications media) said.

“For the past two semesters, due to the pandemic, we have decided to just do gift cards in various amounts. We offer a variety of gift cards this coming semester including food like Uber Eats, McDonald’s, Panera and Starbucks. And some can vary to stores like JOANN [Fabrics], American Eagle, Bath and Body Works and Target.

“But we always make sure that we have that big prize that everyone wants which amounts to $50.” 

New gift cards are offered as the prizes to each round and the gift card amounts, and stores can vary from week to week as well. The gift cards offered at the first bingo game of the semester included gift cards for Dunkin Donuts, Giant Eagle, Panera, DSW, Bath and Body Works and Target as the largest prize for the final round of the night. There was also a gift card that could be used in multiple locations for different purposes and store types.

With fewer students being made aware that bingo is still taking place, attendance has been lower, and the chances of winning multiple prizes has increased, but some of the excitement must do with competition, of course.

“When bingo was in person at Ohio Room located in the HUB, our attendance was usually between 50 and 100 students,” Ebert said. “Now that it is over Zoom, our attendance rates have been lower, but we are always open to new players each week.

“The past two semesters, our totals have remained the same, which is roughly 25 to 30 students, which means more opportunities to win. But we also find that attendance is lower because most students don’t know about bingo being over Zoom.”

If you are looking for an exciting, free and, most importantly, safe event to attend Friday nights consider joining in the fun of BACCHUS Bingo. Have a great time with friends, make new ones and share in the excitement of the chance to win gift cards to use around Indiana and beyond.

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