Bingo halls struggle
to keep customer base

Feb 14, 2006 2:03 AM

With the advent of casino gambling and higher utility costs throughout the state, bingo in Colorado has struggled.

Reportedly, the state lost more than $3.5 billion in bingo revenue. Because many players are retirees on fixed incomes, higher heating costs and medical bills have hit them hard.

Also drawing away from the funds available for bingo are competition such as scratch tickets, lottery and gambling in Blackhawk and Cripple Creek.

The result has been fewer players and smaller jackpots.

Organizations such as the Salida Elks Lodge No. 808, which once relied on bingo revenue to pay bills and finance charities, have had to alter their bingo schedules and offerings.

Last year, in an effort remain afloat, the Elks changed to a different bingo menu which included fewer games and a lower total payout of $1,000.

Before the change, the maximum payout was $1,500. Prizes awarded included $50 for a regular bingo, $75 for a special and $125 for blackouts, excluding the progressive jackpot.

With the change to a $1,000 payoff, smaller prizes were awarded and interest began to wane and attendance continued to drop.

In order to draw players back into the hall, the Elks introduced a new format, which features 16 games, including a progressive jackpot, while paying out 80 percent of whatever they take in.

They’ve also cut the cost of card packets from $12 and $10 to $10 and $8.