Angela LaBrake with her bingo ball at the unveiling at Sycuan Casino Resort. (Chadd Cady / Sycuan Casino Resort)

Sycuan Casino Resort has combined art with gaming, commissioning local artists to design the main tools of a beloved casino game.

Their five giant hand-painted bingo balls, presented Wednesday, will be featured throughout the El Cajon resort for several months, for resort-goers to enjoy and photograph.

The installation is meant to commemorate the tribe’s bingo history and celebrate its new partnership with mobile game developer PLAYSTUDIOS. The chosen artists have taken part in ArtWalk San Diego.

“This art installation is a small way for us to acknowledge our history, while also looking to the bright future that lies ahead,” Cody Martinez, Chairman, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation. “We are very proud to partner with PLAYSTUDIOS and ArtWalk San Diego to feature these beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces created by local artists throughout our resort.”

Carl Knutson Jr.,one of five local artists who painted bingo balls. (Chadd Cady / Sycuan Casino Resort)

In 1983, the Sycuan Band opened a one-room Bingo Palace on their tribal reservation, the first bingo parlor in Southern California. After the venture’s success, the tribe began to expand their gaming operation, now a multimillion-dollar casino and resort destination.

Sycuan nods to that history in the partnership with PLAYSTUDIOS to create a mobile gaming app, myVEGAS Bingo

The app lets players combine their bingo play with social options, by creating and joining their own bingo clubs, competing in tournaments and trading collectible tokens.

Other PLAYSTUDIOS games include myVEGAS SlotsPOP! Slotsmy KONAMI Slots and myVEGAS Blackjack. The apps also allow players to earn rewards that can be redeemed for travel, leisure, lifestyle and entertainment products, including at the Sycuan resort.

The bingo ball numbers were selected to represent the casino’s opening on November 23, 1983, and the celebration of 38 years in business this fall.

“The artists that Sycuan selected represent a wide variety of artistic styles and will create terrific photo backdrops for guests at the property.”,” said Sandi Cottrell, director at ArtWalk San Diego. 

The artists, and their corresponding bingo balls, are:

  • B11 – Jen Duran, whose studio is in Chino Hills, said “hummingbirds … represent a sense of freedom and beauty for me. This is my inspiration for using them in this project.”
  • I23 – Carolyn Johnson, a mixed-media artist, calls her style “coastal contemporary,” and used some of her recycled surfboard artworks as inspiration for her bingo ball.
  • N38 – The work of Justin Coopersmith, also a mixed-media artist, was inspired by a “happy smiling festive sun.” He enjoys North County beaches and golf courses.
  • G19 – Carl Knutson, a former lawyer and “free-flowing” artist, drew from his “deep love for the ocean” for his ball. Also, he noted, “I like to play Bingo.”
  • O83 – Angelica LaBrake, 24, is from the Sycuan reservation and said she was “grateful for this opportunity to share with you a piece of me and what reminds me of my people’s land.”
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