Bingo Losses Hit Charities Hard

In many parts of the US long term bingo games are in serious trouble. In western New York charity bingo games are in serious trouble. It’s a familiar story; casinos that can offer bigger jackpots have lured long time players away from charity bingo games. In Ohio one parish was forced to cancel their games and raise tuition at their parochial school because of pressure from nearby casinos in Cleveland. In Texas the Katy Elks Lodge #2628 has been hosting bingo games for 32 years. The Elks lodge has weathered the current economic slowdown but they need community support so they can continue to award scholarships and donate to school programs and scouting activities.

Because of several factors including a sluggish economy and competition from a nearby commercial bingo halls the Elks lodge has experienced a steep decline in player numbers. The losses are so great that the lodge is thinking of ending the games and shutting the doors for good. Bob Boyett, past president of the Texas Elks State Association, told reporters “If things don’t turn around, we may have to shut it down.” Darlene Crisamore, spokesperson for the Katy Elks Lodge said “We depend on bingo to pay our operating expenses and fund our programs. I don’t think most people realize how much we impact the community, and especially local youths.”

Just five years ago the Katy Elks Lodge made $70,000 through their twice weekly bingo games. During the past couple of years that figure has fallen to $3,000, barely enough to pay basic bills. Crisamore told reporters “Bingo is one of our most important fund-raising tools. However, due to a decrease in attendance and profits, we can’t continue to keep it going unless things turn around.” The bingo games are staffed by unpaid volunteers and all of the money is put back into the community. In 2009 the Katy Lodge was named “Best Overall Lodge Youth Program” in Texas.

The Katy Elks Lodge is known for their “Texas Elks Grants for Special Children.” Over the past five years the Katy Elks have donated $97,889 in grants to Katy children with special needs. During the same period the Katy Elks have sent 96 children to the Texas Elks Special Needs camp in Ottine, Texas. Unfortunately what is happening in Katy is happening across the country. Hopefully charities can think of new ways to attract players.