Bingo Halls Pressured by Casinos


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Bingo Halls Pressured by Casinos In the United States bingo has been an effective fundraising tool for charities for decades. In the past bingo halls were full of excited players out for an evening of fun and excitement. Unfortunately attendance at bingo games is dwindling and many bingo halls have been forced to close. In Maryland casinos have lured bingo players from their regular games. In the 27 months since casinos opened in Maryland bingo halls have been hard hit. Bingo World in Brooklyn Park has experienced a 20 to 25% drop in business since the casinos opened.

Randy Clemens, the general manager of Bingo World, told reporters "We have found that people who used to come maybe two or three days (a week) now only come one, and when they come, they don't have as much money as they used to have. We're trying to give away more and more to just keep the clientele we have." Maryland Live!, the state's largest casino, is just a few miles away from Bingo World. Maryland has approved six casinos and three have opened. Casinos in Baltimore and near Washington, D.C., are expected to open in the next few years. Bingo World is one of several commercial bingo halls.

In addition to commercial bingo halls several community organizations and charities use bingo as a fundraising tool. Al Meyer manages bingo games three nights a week for the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department and said that player numbers have dropped since the casinos opened. Meyer stated "We've been affected to a degree. Not yet the degree I had feared." Meyer has extensive experience in the bingo industry and has managed bingo games since 1968 when he worked part time for casino mogul Steve Wynn.

Meyer said his hall has experienced a 15 to 18% drop in player numbers. Bingo managers said bingo differs from casino gambling in two ways-it's less expensive and more social. Meyer said that over time regular players become friends. He said some players have attended games at the Arbutus fire hall for decades. To remain profitable Bingo World has installed several video pull-tab machines. The machines resemble slots but are different under Maryland law. Clemens said that about 50% of Bingo World's income is generated by the pull-tab machines.

Once internet gambling is legalizes in the US bingo halls may face challenges from a new source; online bingo. Gaming experts say that the legalization of internet gambling in the US will create a 'boom' in the online bingo industry.

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