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Online Poker News Archives - December 20, 2005

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December 20, 2005

Full Houses for Poker, an Empty “House” for Bingo

For years now, staging bingo nights has been a blue-chip strategy for U.S. charities in need of funding. Most non-profit organizations are run on shoestring budgets, usually by people who nobly give of their time in the name of the charitable cause. Typically, these very same volunteers staff charity bingo games, acting as bingo callers, receipt collectors, and event organizers. Recently, however, there has been a steady decline in proceeds from bingo events.

Event organizers attribute the downswing in bingo participation to multiple factors, such as the introduction of smoking bans in many states, which discourages many people from coming to play. The main factor in bingo's decline, however, is simply the age of the bingo-playing population. Most bingo fans are older, and the game's slower pace doesn't appeal to much of today's youth.

Not-for-profit organizations still need to function, however, and many have been hard-hit by flagging bingo revenues. Taking a proactive approach, many charities have switched from bingo nights to poker fundraisers, and it seems that they are on to something big. Capitalizing on poker's booming popularity, many charities have begun hosting Texas Hold 'em poker tournaments, and have found them to be extremely crowd-pleasing and, above all, profitable.

Charity event organizers have found that many more people are currently attracted to poker games, as they involve skill, versus bingo games, which are completely based on luck. Indeed, poker, rather than bingo, seems to be where the money is, as people are more likely to spend greater sums on tournament buy-ins and entry fees than bingo cards and pull tab games. As such, the poker prize pools are usually much larger than bingo jackpots. A typical poker tournament these days can bring in thousands of dollars to a charity in one night, instantly funding a great portion of its operating expenses. Bingo nights, on the other hand, sometimes even lose money for a charity if not enough players show up for the games.

Is charity bingo gone for good? Not by a longshot, as hundreds of licenses are still being issued for such events by authorities in most states. But for now, it seems that poker is riding a wave of popularity that bingo simply cannot match.

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