Bingo blitz!

Mar 15, 2005 5:07 AM

Bingo is back and it’s bigger than ever! Last year in Nevada, bingo halls raked in more than $6.8 million, an astounding 173 percent more than the $2.5 million they collected in 2003.

Riding the wave of its newfound popularity, more than 3,000 leading bingo industry operators, vendors and media are expected to gather at the 9th Annual BingoWorld Conference and Expo, March 23-24, at the Riviera Hotel & Casino.

The BingoWorld Expo will be preceded by a half-day conference, Bingo.II, on March 22.

Bingo.II is devoted to bingo at tribal gaming facilities, which last year won some key administrative decisions that will make it easier to offer bingo video lottery terminals (slot-like bingo machines).

The BingoWorld conference will feature 18 diverse seminars and hands-on workshops, conducted by successful bingo professionals from around the world.

Topic areas include bingo regulatory changes, marketing and promotion, technology trends and customer service.

Bingo officials cite new bingo programs as well as upgraded technology and facilities as reasons for bingo’s renaissance.

"Bingo players, though not as revered as high-rolling casino customers, want and deserve a compelling gaming experience, even though they spend only a fraction of what casino gamblers spend," said a bingo supervisor at a "locals" oriented casino in Las Vegas. "They want fair games, interesting programming, great prizes, comfortable surroundings, and they want to feel welcome and respected as customers. Our bingo hall as well as many others in Las Vegas have improved in those areas over the past year."

Most of the bingo halls in Las Vegas are located in so-called "locals" casinos, as opposed to casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, which is home to just one bingo casino (the New Frontier).

But bingo has become commonplace at Native American casinos across the country.

"Bingo’s growth and popularity at tribal facilities are at all-time highs, thanks to new technologies, and creative new ways of marketing of traditional bingo," said a bingo supervisor at Morongo Casino and Bingo Hall in Southern California.

One of the Expo’s seminars, Indian Bingo Games: The Secrets to Success, will focus on some of the most successful campaigns and promotions offered by Indian bingo games, including those linked with other Indian bingo games to create larger prizes and more attractive jackpots.

Another seminar will share the latest high-tech developments and future trends that will further enhance the bingo gaming experience. They include hand-held and fixed base electronics, pari-mutuel games, pay-table based personal play games, casino presentation games and electronic pull tabs.

Another high-tech seminar, Player Tracking, will feature the latest player tracking systems and how they interface with slot clubs and other programs.

In addition to the comprehensive conference program, the BingoWorld convention will feature an expo hall with nearly 75 exhibitors hawking their wares.

Among the high-profile companies that will be in attendance are Bally Gaming, Sodak Gaming (IGT’s Class II gaming subsidiary), SCA Promotions and Multimedia Games.