Bingo halls in Canada currently favor old-fashioned bingo, played with daubers and real bingo cards. Many are adopting electronic bingo machines as an option, and those with e-bingo tend to offer old school bingo alongside the machines for those who prefer to daub their lucky bingo numbers one by one. Ontario’s Thunder Bay city council is taking a new e-bingo pilot project into consideration, carefully weighing the pros and cons associated with electronic bingo.
Thunder Bay Community Bingo has been in operation since 1987. Unlike some bingo halls, it is charity owned and not for profit. Several non-profit organizations and member charities benefit from its daily matinee, evening, and twilight sessions, and players benefit not just from the ability to play bingo regularly, but from such bonuses as super jackpots, a bonus wheel, double payouts, and other fun promotions. There’s no doubt about it – Thunder Bay Community Bingo is already very popular. With the addition of electronic bingo, it is hoped that the venue’s popularity will increase, and that revenue for charities and non-profit organizations will see an increase as well.
The addition of e-bingo touch screen terminals hinges on the council agreeing to a partnership with Ontario’s Lottery and Gaming Corporation. According to OLG’s representative, Ryan Bissonette, adding e-bingo as an option could help all seventy of the charities and non-profits that currently rely on bingo for much needed funding. “The charitable bingo and gaming industry has been in decline in the last decade, and the goal is to create a new experience to retain current players and to attract new customers as well,” he started. He went on to say that “E-bingo will provide the charities with a sustainable source of funds and with the ability to raise more funds.”
For Thunder Bay bingo players like Diane Moyer, who said “I like the old school bingo. I don’t like the machines,” there’s great news. Old-style bingo won’t be done away with. Instead, electronic bingo terminals will be an option players can choose. Those who prefer the fun of daubing paper bingo cards will be able to continue playing as they always have. The two modes of bingo play will run side by side, and all players will be playing the same numbers.
Proponents of electronic bingo say that pilot projects at bingo halls in Kingston, Sudbury, Barrie, Windsor, and Petersborough were received with approval by bingo players, demonstrating an average revenue growth of 9.5 percent. If the new terminals are approved, Thunder Bay’s bingo hall should have them installed later this spring.
Updated : May 19, 2014