Bingo games in Alexandria grossed $2.3 million in the 12-month period that ended in October, according to just-released city figures, despite the scandals involving illegal gambling in the city.
Although the figures were nearly double the previously reported high of $1.2 million, City Finance Director Howard J. Holton cautioned last night that "there is no way to tell whether more people are playing the game this year."
Holton said that new methods of tabulating bingo proceeds, required as a result of last year's scandals, resulted in what he called a "more precise" picture of bingo activity in the city.
The newly designed accounting methods require operators for the first time to list all money received in bets as well as all money distributed in prizes, rather than simply permitting operators to list proceeds remaining after prizes had been given out, Holton said.
Last year, five bingo operators in the city were convicted of illegal gambling, and former Alexandria commonwealth's attorney William L. Cowhig resigned after being acquitted of charges that he had asked for and received $32,000 in bribes to permit illegal bingo games to flourish.
The leading bingo operator in the city once again was the Montessori School of Alexandria, which reported a gross of $1.9 million. That included $549,000 from instant bingo, a controversial form of the game that is often compared to slot machines gambling. Last September, Alexandria became the only jurisdiction in Virginia to ban instant bingo.
The Montessori school used $500,000 for educational purposes, according to the report. Eight other church or school groups also sponsored bingo games.