Fixed Bingo games?

About 10 years ago, my mother was a bingo regular.
The games she attended, while of course big money makers, were also kinda hillbilly-esque in their casualness. She, although not a hillbilly, was a semi favorite of the employees there.
So, they called her up to the front to be a ‘guest caller’ (just sit there next to the caller, since she had won the previous game, and let people…dunno, get inspiration??)

At any rate, she was also allowed to play while this was going on. She was one number away from a Bingo of a couple of thousand dollars when the caller hissed to her “What number? What number?” My mom said “Seven.” The caller reached over and grabbed the next ball. The number was, of course, seven, and she won.

Again, another time, a friend’s gf was going to a bingo game, which was said to have been fixed. Don’t know the outcome, since friend went and kilt someone who needed killin’ while she was gone, so, I never found out the outcome.

So, I’ve been been to a couple of bingo games myself, and it seems to me that it would be near impossible to fix one, because the camera is on the balls as they are blown (?) up to be picked up by the caller.
Is such a thing possible? If so, how?


I suppose you could fix the numbers on the cards and the spread of numbers on the balls so that only certain cards are even able to win. But I don’t know how practical that would be.

Would lighter balls be more prone to be picked?

Back a few years, many bingo games were run on a much more casual level. And the poor groups doing bingo may not have been able to afford this kind of video equipment. So the caller just reached in a basket and pulled out a ball, and then read off the number. If he called out a different number than the one on the ball, there wasn’t much likelihood that this would ever be caught.

of course, if it ever was caught, the retribution was also likely to be pretty casual (i.e., outside the judicial system) and pretty severe.

Thanks for the input, guys!

All the bingo equipment I’ve seen, there’s a cage with the balls blowing in the air, and there’s a open tube. As the balls land on the tube, they roll down out of the cage, queued up to be read. There’s room for 2 balls, so the video (later addition) will show the ball that will be called next, for those who are trying to stay ahead of the caller. (But you can’t yell Bingo! until your number is called).

SO maybe amateur night at First Ozark Baptist they reached into a bucket to pull the next number, but most setups where they do even a bit of regular bingo, the equipment is past that now - for precisely the reason the OP states, to avoid cheating or any accusation of cheating. Nothing is more vicious than a bunch of old ladies who think they were ripped off at bingo. THere will be plenty of those… When you reach about 50 numbers, about where the blackout jackpot usually gets called, there are 24 other possible other configurations of cards all waiting for one number - who are going to be disappointed and argumentative. (Yeah, I know, there are billions of combinations of cards).

If you make some of the balls slightly bigger they will be less likely to go into the chute. Avoid the cards that have those numbers and your odds increase. Fake bingo cards are another way to increase your chances of winning.

From the movie Highway 61:

“Lady, you can’t cheat at bingo. If you could, I would, but you can’t. I won because I was lucky - lucky to wind up in a town full of losers!”

I was thinking of this line too.
“The girls’ mother is no longer with us.”
“I’m sorry, how did she die?”
“I didn’t say she died. I said she is no longer with us”)
You can skew the odds in bingo, I suppose, like any other game. But… it’s pretty difficult to cheat and win specific games without the caller’s collusion. If the caller needs to show the ball (can’t imagine they would get away without doing so, especially a winning one) then either they have one up their sleeve or grab the right one; and to win the blackout, they have to call 24 of 50 balls just right, to match their conspirator’s card; or have some un-obvious way of communication and picking the last few balls to complete that card. IIRC even the Highway 61 scene in the church basement, they used the air fountain in a birdcage bingo picking.

I have trouble imagining anyone around the OP’s winning scenario going along with this cheat unless they too have benefitted from the same cheat; in which case, why would anyone else in the room keep coming to play once the scenario became common knowledge (which it won’t if the old ladies refrain from gossip, like telling their family…)

The following anecdote took place in the late 1970’s. Grandma would go to bingo pretty routinely, and often dragged me with her. She played regular weeknight games at the Church of the Little Flower.

Being wise beyond my years, I caught on to a scam that would go on at their weekly Tuesday night games. Here’s how it worked: there would be the caller, who would call the numbers, and there would also be a handful of men/women who would walk around at the ready, should anyone call Bingo!, to call out the numbers on the winner’s card, so as to compare the winner’s numbers to the called numbers.

One “walker” would casually make his way over to a certain section the 2nd or 3rd game after intermission. Then the same woman would call Bingo!, and the same walker would go to her and “verify” her numbers. Undoubtedly she was splitting the money with him. Same woman, same caller, same game, every Tuesday night for months. How no one else caught on to it I have no idea.

Nowadays, bingo cards are serial-numbered.
The caller calls out the serial number of the winning card, and the automated bingo screen verifies it.

OTOH, even back then -

(a) unless the whole table is in on it, sooner or later someone is going to notice “she was never anywhere near bingo when she called it!” Those ladies are sharp, they do bingo all the time, several times a week - they notice this. They are always looking at each others’ cards.

(b) If he noticed it, then sooner or later half the participants will catch on too. Why would they keep coming back and handing over money to someone else?

© Most of the tech, from air fountains of balls to the overhead display of numbers called, to the modern computer tech - are all designed to not only prevent cheating, but prove to the customers that cheating is not happening. This must have been a pretty complacent bunch to put up with it.