|Across the US, charitable bingo games are suffering from dwindling revenues, partly due to the allure of other types of gambling, and partly thanks to the ravages of age taking its toll on bingo’s signature demographic: Old ladies.|
Rose Toscano, head of the Young Seniors weekly bingo game in Boston said the losses were unavoidable: “Death, Alzheimer's, and illness” were some of the causes for charity bingo’s dwindling customer base, although more lucrative bingo games at Foxwoods Resorts and Casino – where payouts can reach $250,000 are also to blame.
A database compiled by Christiansen Capital Advisors, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm that advises the gaming industry, showed that overall consumer spending on bingo nationally has not changed since 1982, but charitable game revenue has fallen from an estimated $1.13 billion in 1998 to $974 million in 2001. The trend reflects what the firm's chairman, Eugene Christiansen, described as a “massive shift out of charitable games and into Indian games”.
In Massachusetts, the number of licensed bingo games has declined by nearly half, going from 916 in 1984 to 479 in 2001. Meanwhile, annual attendance has fallen from 10.4 million in 1984 to 3.7 million in 2001.
Local bingo operators say they can't compete with the ever-expanding range of gambling options, when their payouts are so much smaller.