Bingo jackpot hits all-time high at Mancini Center

Bingo jackpot hits all-time high at Mancini Center

Gloria Mamis, member of the North Providence Mancini Center, plays bingo on Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m. with her lucky Christmas cat.
Mayor, employees say it’s a sign of strengthening facility

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The North Providence Mancini Center’s evening bingo jackpot has hit an all-time high of $700, and it’s up for grabs Jan. 8. The projected total of prize winnings for the evening will be more than $1,700.

“The weekly crowds are getting larger as the jackpot begins to grow,” said Joe Riccitelli, project manager at the center. He said bingo players have been coming from all over Rhode Island and and even beyond state lines after the center brought back bingo in September following a nearly one-year hiatus.

Staffers at the center, 2 Atlantic Blvd., say this is only the start of a bingo program functioning as an important tool in funding the center. Bingo helps offset and provide programs and activities at the facility, keeping them free for members.

“The success of the center’s rejuvenated evening bingo is quite impressive,” said Mancini Center Director Linda Giorgio.

She said the staff is pleased to announce, once the jackpot hits, that they will begin a new progressive jackpot of $500. The $500 start-up should bring the center’s bingo jackpots well over $800, she said.

In four months after opening evening bingo under the new director, the game has drawn weekly attendance of more than 100 players, rivaling the numbers seen in the old days when the center was a nonprofit organization instead of a town-run operation, said Riccitelli.

In those four months, bingo has awarded approximately $20,000 in prizes to players.

According to Riccitelli, the highest the jackpot ever got at the old center was around $600. There were 116 people at bingo two weeks ago, he said.

Membership at the center continues to rise, said Riccitelli, up to 1,231 members as of last Thursday, Dec. 27. That number is well short of a staff prediction last February of between 2,000 and 3,000 members by the end of 2018. Sign-ups have slowed significantly since the initial 700 people signed up by last March, but those who run the center say they’re still very happy with where they are at this point.

Mayor Charles Lombardi said this week that the Mancini Center staff is doing a great job running the bingo program and other events at the center, and he is letting them manage it as they see fit.

“We haven’t heard one negative comment pertaining to the operations at the senior center,” he said. “We’re elated.”

Lombardi said the “proof is going to be in the pudding” on the strong attendance numbers of late “once this jackpot is hit.” He said some people may be coming to North Providence for the higher jackpot rather than their typical bingo spot. There was originally a survey that went out to seniors about whether to keep bingo on Tuesdays or move it to Wednesdays to avoid some competition from other communities on Tuesdays, he said, and Tuesdays narrowly won out.

The center has been humming under town operation, said the mayor, drawing more than 200 people for the annual Christmas party. In talking with municipal leaders elsewhere, many towns had 50 or fewer people at their holiday parties, he said.

Admission packets for weekly bingo are $10, which includes 12 games of play. Special bingo games are available for $1 each. All players are automatically entered into weekly door prizes. Complimentary coffee, tea and refreshments are offered during intermission.

“For only $15 you can play every game, have a fun night out and a chance to win cash,” said Riccitelli in a statement. “That’s less expensive than movie night.”

“Of course, you can always play more to increase your odds of winning,” added said Joseph Nardella, program coordinator at the center.

Doors open at 5 p.m. for Tuesday evening bingo, and games begin promptly at 6 p.m. Bingo is open to the public for adults age 18 and older.

The North Providence Mancini Center welcomed Dr. Ibrahim Elgabry as a new resource for seniors in September.

The town reached an agreement a year ago to pay off the last of the former nonprofit senior center’s bills to make way for a municipal takeover of the facility in early 2018.

Lombardi announced in March of 2017 that he’d be cutting all $510,000 in town funding to the former Salvatore Mancini Resource and Activity Center, later renamed the North Providence Mancini Center to reflect its changed status as a municipal operation, and the Town Council voted 4-3 to back his plan.

The vote to cut town funding came after three years of back-and-forth debate on various questions surrounding the senior center’s budget and spending, with Lombardi and council members expressing frequent frustration about the lack of information provided by the former operators.

The former staff made an attempt at running the center after the funding was cut, relying on volunteers to help keep programs going, but that effort proved too great of a challenge. Most staffers were laid off, and the center was mostly shut down.

The Mancini Center’s main event room is now also available for outside rentals, said Lombardi this week, bringing in more revenue in addition to the revenue coming in from events at the Meehan Overlook on the Wenscott Reservoir.

Visit www.mancinicenter.com for more on the North Providence Mancini Center.

Sandi Church is a volunteer bingo caller for North Providence Mancini Center’s Tuesday Evening Bingo, which has recently had a record jackpot.