At the beginning of the month, a 42-year-old man from Washington DC pleaded guilty to causing an explosion at Bingo World in Brooklyn Park, Maryland. Andre Richardson is now facing up to 25 years in jail and fines of $250,000 after he set off a device that sent shrapnel more than 30 feet in all directions and caused injuries to eight people.
His case was heard in an Anne Arundel County courtroom where he pled guilty to one felony count of using a destructive device. At first, Richardson was facing 14 charges in relation to the incident that took place on July 5 2022.
It took more than a month for detectives to track Richardson down and arrest him after they managed to identify him from the bingo venue’s security video. In the footage, he can be seen setting a device down between two electronic bingo machines and then attempting to light it several times. Richardson then stands and moves away from the area as a small plume of smoke appears preceding the explosion.
Fortunately, the explosion and resulting shrapnel killed no one. However, two people had to be rushed to hospital for emergency treatment. A further six patrons of Bingo World suffered from minor injuries. In addition, the blast damaged three electronic bingo machines, each of which is worth roughly $7,000.
According to investigators, Richardson was easily identified as he was wearing distinctive gold-rimmed glasses and a t-shirt with a local moving company’s logo on it. However, while the security cameras caught him leaving in his car, the footage did not capture his number plate.
At Richardson’s bond hearing in October, Judge Glenn L. Klavens described him as an “extreme threat” to public safety while prosecutors said that his actions had “terrorised” visitors to the bingo hall.
However, Richardson’s motive for setting off the device is unclear and his lawyer, Denis O’Connell, a public defender, described the act as a “momentary lack of judgement”. The device itself has not been identified, but O’Connell suggested that it was a “firecracker”.
Richardson now awaits his sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for July 13, to learn of his punishment.
Despite the blast, Bingo World continued with its push to become one of the state’s premier gambling destination. Just a few weeks after the attack, it opened Maryland’s first retail sportsbook to be located outside of a casino.
Visitors to Bingo World can now place sports bets at its BetRivers Sportsbook and keep an eye on the action as they enjoy their favourite bingo games. There are twelve betting kiosks, 25 high definition televisions, and plenty of comfortable seats for sports fans to relax in. Of course, the sportsbook also boasts a fully stocked bar for when celebratory drinks are needed.
When the sportsbook opened, Bingo World owner and President Randy Clemens said, “We are so excited and honored to be the first operator outside of a casino to offer Maryland residents a retail sportsbook. Together with our partners at RSI, we can offer bettors a world-class in-person sports betting experience at the BetRivers sportsbook and lounge.”
At the same time, Richard Schwartz, the Chief Executive Officer of RSI, said, “We are thrilled to partner with Bingo World to launch the BetRivers retail sportsbook in the state of Maryland. With Bingo World’s brand recognition in the Baltimore area, the easy-to-access venue, and RSI’s award-winning products and services, we look forward to delivering convenient and exciting sports betting options to retail customers and are excited about building trust and loyalty as they become familiar with our award winning product.”