Ontario Charities Turn to Electronic Bingo

In Canada bingo is moving into the 21st century. The town council of St. Catherine’s has unanimously approved changes to the city’s charity bingo policies. The move will permit the city’s last surviving bingo hall to add new technologies to the game. The Delta Bingo hall will continue to provide paper bingo cards to those that want to play the old fashioned way. Andrea Bellenie, secretary-treasurer of the company that owns the Delta Bingo Hall, said her company is hoping that electronic bingo will attract new players and save a business that has been in serious trouble for years.

Delta Bingo will have to invest $500,000 in the new electronic bingo technology. Bellenie said that without the changes the bingo hall will not survive. In 2012 Delta Bingo lost $200,000 according to Bellenie. The new electronic bingo games will generate more money for the 79 local charities that use bingo to raise funds. In a letter to the town council Bellenie said that electronic bingo will save the jobs of 27 people employed by Delta. A report from city clerk Bonnie Nistico-Dunk said that electronic bingo could boost bingo revenues in St. Catherine’s by about 20% which would mean an extra $500,000 for charities.

St. Andrew’s Counsel Mat Siscoe supports the switch to electronic bingo because if bingo revenues dry up the charities will be asking the city for grants. In the past there were three bingo halls in St. Catherine’s but today Delta is the only one left. At Delta the net win, which is based on card sales declined by nearly 60% from 2008 to 2012. City clerk Bonnie Nistico-Dunk said that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation proposed the change which was mandated by the provincial government to support charity fundraising efforts. In her report Nistico-Dunk wrote “Touch screens and video display terminals will allow for a more entertaining environment. Creating an exciting entertainment experience will assist in preserving, maintaining and growing the game of bingo.”

In a letter Bellenie said Delta will convert to electronic bingo early this year. The city will continue to issue permits to eligible charities. Bingo has suffered a serious decline in Ontario. In 2003 there were 200 bingo halls and today there are only 65. In 2003 8,000 charities raised funds using bingo but today 3,000 use bingo to raise money. There has been a 10% yearly decline in bingo revenues since 2003. The province and charities may want to consider the fundraising possibilities of internet bingo. In Great Britain internet bingo has raised millions for good causes.