Massachusetts Casinos Could Affect Charity Bingo Games

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In the state of Massachusetts bingo is still the most lucrative charitable game and raises millions for various charities annually. About 200 bingo games are held weekly throughout the state. According to a recent report by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission charity bingo games are held by churches, civic, fraternal and other non-profit groups. Bingo has experienced falling sales in the state largely because of a smoking ban imposed in 2004 and Catholic parish closures. The report cites competition from Connecticut and New Jersey casinos, the Lottery's Keno games and a lack of volunteers at bingo games.

Massachusetts Casinos Could Affect Charity Bingo GamesBingo in the state could face a new threat because of plans to open three casinos in different parts of the state by 2015. Dale Swanson of Palmer, club manager for the Ludlow Elks, says charitable bingo games are the clubs biggest annual fund raiser. H. Steven Norton, CEO of a Missouri-based company that provides management to the gaming industry, says that casinos could hurt charity bingo games. Norton said that that gaming regulators in Massachusetts should consider banning bingo from for profit casinos. Beth Bresnahan, director of marketing and communications for the state Lottery, has a different opinion and says that players are loyal to their local bingo games. She said that many players attend games for social reasons. Bresnahan said that casinos will likely take some business from charity games but that "The impact is unknown at this time."

State Senator Stanley Rosenberg believes that the charity games can withstand competition from casinos. Rosenberg told reporters "If the lottery has not put them out of business, there is a slim chance casinos will." David Barszcz, a retired banker and parishioner at the Belchertown United Church of Christ, says that bingo attracts "a totally different clientele" than casinos Barszcz believes the bingo games will survive and said "We're not looking for high rollers. We're looking for people to come out and have fun. We consider it a community event."

The Gaming Commission's report that was released on July 31st said that charitable gaming has a meaningful economic impact in Massachusetts. Currently charity gaming generated $75 million annually and charitable organizations and $18 million is retained by the organizations. Bingo generates about meaningful economic impact for charities. After operating expenses and taxes the money goes for charities such as scholarships, needy families, seniors and youth sports. Hopefully the new casinos will not hinder charities in their efforts to fund good causes in Massachusetts.

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