Returning Home to Charitable Bingo
Home from Quebec, I had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's Day. I'm back on track talking about charitable gambling and bingo.
Canadians Love to Gamble
Over 70% of Canadians gamble regularly. This does include friendly gambling such as participating in an office pool. Any time money is wagered it's gambling. Charitable bingo is also gambling if the players can take home their winnings even though most of the proceeds go to charities of one sort or another.
Almost half of Canadians buy a lottery ticket every week.
Many people decry the use of gambling as a fundraising method. This is fine, except those people haven't found a way to raise the money so many small organizations need to survive. Charitable bingo is as benign a "gambling method to raise money" as any we have.
Gambling Avenues Abound
There are now many land-based casinos, a vast number of online casinos that let Canadians play with Canadian dollars, racetracks, sports gambling, fantasy sports, and many other ways to gamble for a big win.
The only form of gambling that doesn't sell itself as a get-rich-quick enterprise is charitable gambling which may take the form of a "casino" run for charity but most often involves charitable bingo.
Bingo is Still Popular
Whilst charitable bingo is far from the top of gambling events it is also not at the bottom. Bingo without the charity element is the second highest gambling activity for people who gamble at the same game regularly, meaning at least once a week. Canadians do want to combine gambling with charity and bingo is a perfect way to do so.
We've discussed some reasons why this is so including the nostalgia for childhood that bingo evokes, the flexibility of bingo which needs only some folding tables and chairs, cards and daubers, a bingo drum, an electronic or mechanical number board, a kiosk, and a caller with a loud, clear voice. Whereas casinos are fixed in the ground and racetracks are immovable, bingo can go wherever people congregate. Thus, charitable bingo pops up in local fairs and many other places to which it can be brought and from which it can be removed easily.
The charities bingo raises money for are usually low budget organizations. A bingo event may support with a few hundred dollars each a number of such organizations.
Charitable Bingo Competes for Gambling Dollars
The challenge to charitable bingo is to find the way to reach out to people who today are gambling online, in land-based casinos, at racetracks, through lotteries and the like. It may not be pleasant to face this simple fact but charitable gambling and bingo are in competition for the "gambling dollar". This is different than the "entertainment dollar" or the "holiday dollar". Even charitable bingo is gambling, as we stated earlier.
Demographics of Gambling
Almost as many unemployed people as employed persons gamble. These people may truly be looking to catch lightning in a bottle and get rich quick. A "marketing campaign" aimed at unemployed people to "give and take" may be effective. People who look for a pie in the sky know that they are highly unlikely to find one. They may be persuaded to take a low level gamble and play bingo for the chance to win a little and give a little.
People with college education gamble more than people with only a high school education but the highest professional cohort gambles the least, not that their participation is small: it's still substantial.
Professionals may be persuaded to play bingo for charity by appealing to the camaraderie and social nature of bingo. In Britain, many bingo "venues" are successfully attracting younger players by setting off an area for them where they can make noise, text, and otherwise act in ways that the more traditional bingoists wouldn't like. These bingo venues are actually growing with an influx of twenty-something players. Millennials are still not a large group that attends bingo at venues but their number is growing, they're bringing friends and family, and are oblivious to the taunts and jeers of those who say that bingo is just for the old folk!
In Canada, bingo centres ought to do everything they can to get young players in the doors. Once in, if the centre is attractive in itself and the young players can socialize with their own, there is a good chance that they'll come back.
No one believes that Canadians will ever wager more money on bingo than on lotteries. For that matter, people spend far more money in restaurants, on holiday, at sporting events, concerts, and at carnivals or similar events than they do on bingo.
Yet, bingo is still seen as the "harmless" gambling game. Charitable bingo entrepreneurs need to find a way to exploit all the positives of charitable bingo in order to keep it a viable pastime for fun, a little profit, and many good recipients of the modest largesse raised.
Following the Online Bingo Sites Lead
Online bingo sites publicize bingo by making it look like a kids' game for adults. Sure you can bet large sums on bingo but you'll still feel good because of the bright colours and the childhood motifs.
Online bingo downplays the gambling side of bingo and emphasizes the fun side. Charitable bingo centres and providers need to do the same. Bingo can't survive without charitable bingo and charitable bingo can't survive without bingo.