Electronic Games to the Rescue

By Ben Hamill - January 28 2016

Electronic Games

Last time I said that I would write about the Charitable Bingo and Gaming Revitalization Initiative. There is a veritable alphabet soup of organizations that are involved in the Initiative, be it directly or indirectly. I apologize for throwing so many acronyms at you.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) began the Initiative in 2014 to help revitalize gaming and especially bingo at centres that use some of the proceeds to help local charitable groups.

They did so in cooperation with the Ontario Charitable Gaming Association (OCGA). The OCGA has been representing the interests of charities and other non-profit organizations since 1998 and is representing them at the Strategic Working Group (SWG) which is run by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

The OCGA also works with the Commercial Gaming Association of Ontario (CGAO).

By provincial law, the AGCO regulates and oversees what are known as "licensed lottery events". Although bingo is not a lottery in any normal sense of the word, it is nevertheless considered a "licensed lottery event" for the purposes of regulation and oversight by the AGCO.

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One of the problems charitable bingo centres have is that break-open tickets are considered a "licensed lottery event" and that adding electronic break-open cards to the gaming options at bingo centres is one avenue the powers that be have decreed will save charitable bingo.

The AGCO registers gaming suppliers and "gaming assistants" at charitable gaming "events".

The introduction is almost complete! Here is this week's menagerie of alphabet soup chain of command. Then I'll try to explain what it all means.

Bureaucracy as its Best

The OLG is working closely with the OCGA and the CGAO to revitalize charitable bingo in Ontario. Hence the long-winded name Charitable Bingo and Gaming Revitalization Initiative.

The bottom line on the suggestions made, accepted, and implemented as per the Initiative is to add electronics to the old fashioned way we fuddy-duddies conduct our bingo "events".

Initiative Once Meant "Do it Yourself"

As an aside, I would like to add that when my parents told me to "take initiative" they meant that I should get off my already soft fanny and "do what was necessary" to solve or resolve an issue.

I was not permitted to outsource the resolution of the matter be it dish washing, room cleaning, or horse grooming to a cacophony of clashing acronyms!

All Hail Electronic Gaming

So, the massive bureaucratic monster set up by the initiative has decreed that charitable bingo will not survive without introducing electronics to the hallowed and peeling halls of ye charitable bingo centre!

It is my sad and unfortunate duty to inform you that they are right!

We live in an electronic age. Few people over fifty have the electro-magnetic footprint of people in their twenties and thirties but it the latter group that must be lured to bingo centres if said centres are to be able to support the many large and small groups and organizations that have long depended somewhat on the small sums raised via charitable bingo.

So, I reluctantly accede to the modern world. I welcome electronic gaming to my and your favourite bingo centres. My arms are not wide open because I already have a sense of what the electronification of bingo centres will bring.

The Effects of Introducing Electronic Gaming

Introducing electronic games to bingo centers will have relatively benign outcomes and some very malign outcomes.

It saddens me that whilst paper bingo is being played as it was always intended to be played, younger players will be playing a huge number of cards electronically! They will be playing the same "games" as the paper daubers but they will be playing far more cards. This will give the electronic gamers a statistical advantage over paper players: the more cards you play, the greater the chance that you will win any given game.

It could be that no electronic gamer will win money over the course of an evening but, as the number of electronic gamers increase the chances will grow that every game on a bingo evening's docket will be won by an electronic gamer!

No longer will they have to develop the eye hand coordination to daub many cards before the next number is called. The only thing they will need to coordinate is the lifting of espresso glass to mouth. It's not bingo but the good causes these games will benefit remain; they will founder without a major injection of electro-beebees.

The Not-So-Good Effects

It will also introduce electronic games that have no connection to bingo at all. Some are already here, such as electronic break open tickets, play on demand (POD — long live the acronym!) games, electronic shutterboard bingo, and TapTix.

It will bring compulsive gamblers to play the rapid response electronic games. Compulsive gamblers may be fine people when the addiction is just taking hold. When the addiction already has them in its grip, they become desperate people, gambling far more than they can afford to lose.

It could become unsafe for older people to frequent bingo centres.

The Denouement

Bingo centres will inexorably follow electronics over paper. As the number of patrons playing bingo the archaic way diminishes, erstwhile bingo centres will begin to resemble land-based casinos on the cheap.

Bingo playing will end; the Initiative will end; the acronymous bureaucracies will survive!

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