Bingo on the airwaves
Another first for Nunavut

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Apr 19/99) - Are you tired of losing too much money in patik on Friday nights?

Why not plop yourself down in front of the old boob-tube and tune in to channel 33 at 6:30 p.m. every Monday night.

TV Bingo is the name of the game and even though it's just new-born, it's already a big hit for many residents of Nunavut's capital.

"It went well. It was nuts," said Lorne Levy, a long-time member of Iqaluit's Rotary Club.

"We were really nervous, thinking what have we gotten ourselves into. It was fun and I think it should be a good fund-raiser."

Teaming up with the Elk's Club to host the show and foot the initial $20,000 start-up costs, Levy said the organizations planned to divvy up the profits and use them to fund community events.

And get ready with your funding requests -- as the bookkeepers tally up the profits of last Monday night's debut, it looks as though the idea was a good one.

"We had way more phone calls than we thought we would have. One person called and said they wanted to have a pizza to go and they weren't kidding."

"Hopefully, we won't get too much of that though," said Sheldon Nimchuk, a member of the local Elk's Club.

He said $3,000 in bingo prizes were handed out to four different people and that a minimum jackpot of $2,000 will be up for grabs every week.

But, be prepared. For dabbing aficionados, calling in with the winning bingo isn't as easy as shouting out that famous five-lettered word in a smoky hall.

"One of the people who won bingo didn't have a phone in their house so they had to send somebody from their house down the hall to call us," said Levy.

And because the show is televised, Levy said the way a winner is determined is a little different.

"Let's say you phone after the 12th number and then I phone after the 13th number, but in fact, I got bingo on the 11th. I win. People are going to have to get used to this."