I rushed quietly into the Bingo Hall and scanned the room for my aunts. I spotted them at a table, their bingo sheets laid out in an organized fashion in front of them. I was late.
“OK, what do I do?” I asked breathlessly after greeting them with hugs. If you play bingo often, you know the drill. But my aunts and I play once a year – or less – when we plan a girls’ getaway. This year, we met at Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone Resort Casino in the heart of upstate New York.
I floundered to get my game boards in order and buy an ink blotter to mark my cards. Two women sitting across the table from me smiled knowingly. They had pre-stamped all 20+ of their bingo game boards so that they knew exactly what numbers were needed to make the winning pattern.
Bingo is not just bingo, I found out. You don’t win by getting a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line. You might need a diamond, or a frame, or an Indian Star, or four corners and an X, or Railroad Tracks (aka two horizontal lines). Every game is different and fast-moving. It’s even a bit stressful, but in a fun, adrenaline- producing way.
None of us won bingo, but my aunt did win $160 at the slot machines. Turning Stone Casino has a full slate of table games and a continually updated variety of gaming machines. When I visited on a Friday afternoon, table minimums were as low as $5. This means you only have to bet $5 per game, which makes it less of a risk to try a new table game, and makes the fun last longer before your money runs out!
Since opening in 1993, Turning Stone has become one of the top five tourist destinations in New York State. If gaming doesn’t appeal to you, the resort offers much more. I love casino resorts because they are like small villages – all under one roof. Turning Stone houses 19 restaurant and convenience food locations, two spas, two fitness centers, a sportsplex (tennis, racquetball), a golf dome (lessons, hitting practice), five world-class golf courses, a dance club, two event arenas (that have hosted acts such as Alicia Keys, James Taylor and KISS), ten retail shops, conference center space, four hotels and an RV park.
My aunts and I had dinner at the Tin Rooster, a good ‘ole honky-tonk featuring classic BBQ, country music, live entertainment, and dancing. I had fried pickles, BBQ beef brisket, and jalapeno corn bread – which was all delicious. But what makes the Tin Rooster even more enjoyable is the décor, which has the feel of a restored barn. The entire wall behind the bar is mirrored and there is a large saddle hanging from the ceiling that’s bedazzled like a disco ball. There’s also a restored Airstream camper with a table set up inside which seems like a unique semi-private dining option for a special occasion.
I ended my day at the Ahsi Day Spa, where I indulged in a relaxing pedicure while sitting in a massaging chair. The spa has all the amenities – sauna, steam room, hot tub, relaxation room – and is a great way to take time out from the excitement to pamper yourself.
While I left Turning Stone Resort with a little less money, I won big at relaxing and having fun.