Long Lines! How High Will Queen’s Jackpot Grow?

AUSTINTOWN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The line was 200-people long at noon, 300 people by 1 p.m. But it moved fast, and so did Doug Duganne, general manager of Barry Dyngles Pub as he bundled up two big wads of cash – “I do it every 15 or 20 minutes,” he said – and removed the ticket money to the jackpot’s secure depository.

People at the front of the line said it took them about 25 minutes to buy their tickets this afternoon for Sunday’s Queen of Hearts drawing. One man handed over $500, exceeded earlier by another who spent $720, said the patient cashier.

“It’s the biggest game in the state of Ohio. For God’s sake, no place in the nation has had anything this huge,” exclaimed township trustee Ken Carano.

Carano’s exclamation followed trustees formally approving the next drawing at the Raccoon Road restaurant, Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

Meeting in special session at 11 a.m. – the same time Barry Dyngles began selling tickets this morning for what will be a jackpot well over $1 million – trustees outlined why they wanted to modify the rules and the legal, public safety and business justifications.

“There’s no carryover of tickets,” Carano began. “Every week is a new beginning.”

Thus, instead of requiring the person whose ticket is drawn to be present in order to claim 100% of the prize, that rule was dropped by mutual agreement Thursday night when township officials met with Barry Dyngles’ management.

Trustees hope most ticket holders will now stay home “and watch the live-streaming on the Internet,” said Jim Davis, chairman of the three-person board.

But if a large crowd gathers again – an estimated 10,000 crowded inside and outside Dyngles Sept. 16 when the jackpot was $778,203 — there will be more than enough off-duty police officers, paid by Dyngles, to keep the peace, which was agreed to last night. And there will be plenty of trash receptacles in hopes of controlling litter.

As for changing the drawings from Wednesday night to Sunday, Carano said, “We don’t want to effectively help some businesses by hurting other businesses in Austintown.”

The thinking here, he continued, is that businesses negatively impacted by the big crowds would be closed Sunday evening and those that benefited – nearby bars and restaurants – would be open.

Said trustee Rick A. Stauffer, “Jim [Davis] and I spent time going door to door, up and down Raccoon Road [Wednesday] talking to businesses.” The trustees stopped at about 25- to 30 businesses, he added.

Interjected Carano, “I couldn’t go with them but my phone was still ringing off the hook.”

In the weeks since the jackpot grew so large, and news organizations made it their top stories as often as they could, “We’ve been bombarded with emails, text, phone calls and letters – some of then hand-delivered,” Carano said. “Not having to be there on the night of the drawings was on everyone’s list.”

The game itself is not unique to Barry Dyngles nor are large jackpots, but certainly not this large.

Carano said trustees were told a Queen of Hearts game in Detroit ended with a jackpot of nearly $400,000; another game in South Carolina with a jackpot of $300,000. And, he said, other restaurants in the township are getting into the act and their jackpots are already over $3,000.

The Queen of Hearts game is sold across the country by distributors such as Youngstown-based Nannicola Inc. A company representative was present at Thursday’s meeting with township officials and Dyngles management, said Michael Dockry, township administrator.

As Dockry related before today’s trustees meeting, the Nannicola representative explained the company that makes the game boards makes sure the first playing card placed face down is the queen of hearts. The boards are sealed and do not state where they were made, an identifying number or manufacturer’s name, which ensures integrity of the game.

A deck of playing cards, including the jokers, is randomly placed face down on the board and labeled with numbers 1 to 54. Players select the number they believe the queen of hearts is hiding under. When their ticket is drawn, an exacto knife cuts the seal and the card is flipped.

Barry Dyngles started the game last October. Eight cards remain on the board, which means there could be as many as eight drawings, each of which would be held on successive Sunday nights until the elusive queen is flipped.

The odds are astronomically long but the payoff? Wow!

Today, as players filled out their tickets then took turns dropping them into a barrel — which restaurant manager Duganne also had to empty frequently —  two words could be heard over and over again: “Good luck!”

Pictured: A portion of the 300-person line at 1 p.m. Friday outside Barry Dyngles Pub in Austintown.

Best of BUZZ, Aug. 25 when the jackpot was less than $329,000.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.