Land-Based Bingo Declining in the US

A typical die hard bingo player will usually arrive at the bingo hall early to get the usual seat and will usually carry a bag full of bingo supplies. Usually the bingo supplies include daubers, tape to hole several bingo cards together for easy marking, bingo chips and an assortment of lucky charms and objects. Some players will place photos of family members in front of them and photos of grandchildren are a favorite. When all the objects are in place socialization begins and since most players at a bingo hall know each other gossip is very popular. Most bingo games in the US are sponsored by churches and charitable organizations and there are also privately run bingo halls.

The same scene takes place daily in thousands of bingo halls across the US. Some players attend bingo games daily and the games are especially popular with retirees.  There are day players and night players. The typical day player will play bingo at a private bingo hall and most evening players attend games run by churches and charitable organizations. Many loyal bingo fans have been playing regularly for decades. Recently the New York Times had an article about bingo and told the story of a cancer patient just released from the hospital that went straight to a bingo game from the hospital. She went to the bingo hall with surgical drains still in place, sat down at her regular spot and played to the astonishment of the other players.

Bingo enjoys a loyal following among working class players across the US but recently charitable has come under pressure from competing forms of legalized gambling and commercial bingo halls where the jackpots are higher and the odds are better for players. Many charitable bingo games just break even after expenses and eventually are forced to shut down. Electronic bingo machines are also contributing to the slow demise of charitable bingo. At some bingo halls there have been cases of cheating which have eroded player confidence.

Although online gaming, which includes online bingo, is illegal in the US many continue to play bingo online. Internet bingo sites provide players with larger jackpots and prizes that cannot be matched by charity bingo games. Most bingo sites offer free online bingo and very generous deposit bonuses. Many charity bingo games have shut down and those who do not live close to a commercial bingo hall must go online to play their favorite game. While land based bingo may be fading in the US online bingo is still going strong.