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Tribout's adapted the business to survive. See what BelleVegas Bingo Hall has to offer

Belleville News-Democrat 10/3/2022 Jennifer Green, Belleville News-Democrat

Oct. 3—I got a call recently from Sherri Glaenzer of Tribout's BelleVegas Bingo Hall.

She said a recent BND story mentioning their business prompted calls and comments from people who had no idea they opened a bingo hall with regular bingo nights.

Sherri asked if I could help get the word out. I happily accepted, and we arranged to meet at the bingo hall.

So this week I met with the family — Dennis Tribout Sr., his wife, Kay Tribout, Sherri, Denny Tribout and Shelly Korves — to talk about the family business as it exists today.

First off, the world of bingo is not new to the Tribout family.

"We've always been in the bingo business," said Denny.

"Since the '50s when it was legal," added Dennis Sr.

The business is charity-based these days. Since May 2021, BelleVegas Bingo Hall has operated as a venue for nonprofits to hold their bingo fundraising events.

The venue "rents" its space to, and facilitates events for, different nonprofits, including three that currently hold weekly bingo nights — Althoff Father & Friends, St. Teresa Catholic School and Swansea First Responders.

The family shares their business experience to help organize events and provide an example of how it all works.

A cool set-up

Dennis Sr. said that they're the most professional bingo hall in southern Illinois, as far as equipment goes.

I have to say, it's a pretty cool set-up with the bingo consoles that draw the numbers and the large flatscreens that show the numbers as they're called.

Guests at their bingo nights can play electronically on a tablet, or e-card, that comes loaded with up to 200 cards, old school with paper cards and a dauber, or a combination of both.

The nice thing about the e-card is that players can "play a lot more cards than they can physically daub," said Sherri.

The e-card does everything for the user. As numbers are called, the tablet's program marks the cards in play. So you don't actually have to know how to use a tablet to use one of the e-cards at Tribout's.

A lot of players who use the e-card "still do paper so they're not bored," said Sherri.

Denny said that with their All-In Package ($25), one can play every game that night with an e-card and paper.

He said that more than $4,000 in cash prizes are awarded a night. (Ka-ching!)

The BelleVegas Bingo Hall Facebook is often updated with posts for upcoming bingo nights, specials and jackpot amounts.

They always have different progressive jackpots going on with bingo, a spin of the prize wheel or pick-a-card game.

The social media platform is "getting younger people," according to Dennis Sr.

Folks can pre-purchase bingo packages on the website. Pick your play date and which games you want. Options include Early Bird games, Middle Bird games and Color Raffle. Choose an e-card and paper combo or opt for paper only.

When your order is placed, all that's left is to show up and pick up your order.

Denny compares it to online ordering at Bread Co. Place your order, and it's ready and waiting for you when you arrive. No waiting in line.

The online sales are suspended from 4-10 p.m. daily.

Extras at BelleVegas

To help keep energy up during game play, BelleVegas Bingo Hall has a small concession stand with a small selection of eats that includes hot dogs, brats, chicken tenders, chili/soup cup, nachos and pretzel bites. There is a selection of candy and candy bars (because chocolate) for a needed sugar bump.

Some nights are designated Fiesta Nights, which means tacos and margaritas.

Guests are also welcome to bring their own food.

Outside alcohol is not allowed, but no worries because BelleVegas Bingo Hall has a liquor license and a cash bar. (Like I said, margaritas.)

In addition, bingo gamers can purchase bingo bags for their supplies, daubers, plastic bingo chips (like my mom used to have) and branded merch.

A gaming room is in the works. A room near the concession stand will soon house five slot machines. Sherri said they plan to have that open this fall.

The Tribouts also host bingo events for other organizations on weekends, both at their bingo hall and at other locations.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, the bingo hall will host the Bourbon & Bags Bingo event, a fundraiser benefiting the Shop with a Cop program.

At this event, the doors open at 6 p.m., and bingo starts at 7 p.m. Guests will play for designer bags or bottles of bourbon. (I know which one I'd choose.)

The Belleville Area Humane Society, for which Shelly serves as the Board's president, is holding two nights of glo-bingo in November, according to the organization's website.

Adapting to survive

Bingo is now the primary focus for the family owned and operated business that started in 1946.

Over the years, Tribout's provided carnival rides and inflatables for community and organization events, party supplies, Halloween costumes and other holiday decorations and novelties, and balloons.

Dennis Sr. said that after 50 years of providing carnival fun for the public, this year's Belleville Oktoberfest was their last big carnival gig.

The retail portion of the business closed in 2019.

The plan was to focus on larger events, wholesale, nonprofit fundraising and bingo, according to the family at the time.

They kept specialty items like raffle tickets and bingo supplies, said Sherri.

Then COVID hit.

"COVID was our most trying time," said Shelly.

The business lost carnivals, school events ... there were no crowds, said Sherri.

"We applied for every grant there was," said Shelly, adding it was that assistance that "pulled us through."

Like most businesses, the family had to adapt theirs in order to survive.

Charities started "looking for places to play bingo," said Denny.

The Tribout family was able to accommodate.

In the bingo hall's early days, players were able to spread out. A table that could potentially seat as many as 10 people was occupied by one or two players at a time, convenient for social distancing.

The building's fire code allows the venue to hold up to 280 people. Now on a normal night, there might be 110-120 people in attendance for bingo.

With only about 40 parking spots available at BelleVegas, parking has been tight with the increased attendance.

For a while, bingo goers parked in the lot across the street where Wise Guys will soon open. Then that parking lot will cease to be an option.

However, with a plan in the works to demolish neighboring buildings, the parking lot at BelleVegas will be expanded to provide 106 parking spaces, Denny stated in another recent interview with the BND.

A well-lit side entrance was added to the building for easier access. Handicapped parking and a drop-off zone are also available.

The doors open early — 4:30 p.m. — for bingo nights. Sometimes people are already there, waiting to come in.

The early entry is nice for older people who live alone. It's their social life, according to Sherri.

They make new friends, give each other gifts, said Shelly.

"A lot of them have become extended family," said Dennis Sr.

About BelleVegas Bingo Hall

Tribout's BelleVegas Bingo Hall is located at 517 S. Illinois St. in Belleville.

Bingo nights are held Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with doors opening at 4:30 p.m. The Early Bird games start at 6:45 p.m.

For more information, call 618-234-0388 or visit bellevegasbingo.com. For the latest specials, jackpot updates and events, check out the BelleVegas Bingo Hall Facebook page.

(c)2022 the Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Ill.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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