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Bingo Hall Owner Accused of Gambling

Bingo Hall Owner Accused of Gambling

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WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (AP) -- The city has charged the owner of a bingo hall with gambling and is attempting to close his hall.

City officials contend patrons sometimes are charged to play and are provided cash prizes.

City prosecutor Ryan Robinson said the city has filed six misdemeanor charges against Joe Coccimiglio, owner of the bingo operation named Como, A Senior Organization.

The city also has sent him a letter saying the club's business license is being revoked effective July 8.

Coccimiglio contends people can play bingo for free.

Many owners of bingo halls argue their operations are legal under a 1979 Utah Supreme Court ruling allowing Albertson's food stores to give customers bingo cards and prizes for free as a promotion.

Most bingo halls say they sell dinners but offer bingo and prizes for free.

A document that patrons must sign to join Como says: "We solicit your cooperation in helping us to uphold the law by not asking the organization to sell you bingo cards. We do not charge to play bingo; your support in purchasing dinners, refreshments, drinks, snacks, movie/show tickets and of course your donations are what we utilize to operate and maintain Como."

However, the city's complaint alleges Como charged extra for some bingo games beyond what came for free with all-you-can-eat buffets that were sold for $25.

The complaint says some undercover detectives were told they must pay extra for special early and late games, one of which offered a jackpot of up to 2,300 points -- which the complaint said could be redeemed for $2,300.

The complaint says one undercover detective paid $15 to play some additional games beyond what came with the bingo cards provided with dinner -- and the detective won $300, paid to him in cash.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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