Statewide bingo game to offer mega jackpots

Mar 12, 2002 9:12 AM

Raising the stakes on a low-budget game, Nevada Bingo is coming this summer.

The first statewide progressive bingo game follows the new Nevada Numbers. Using the same type of five-number pick, it will offer hourly drawings and jackpots starting at $25,000.

“We’re looking at 20 or more locations to start,’’ said Bob Ducaj of Triple Win in Nevada, the game’s designer and marketer. “It’s a way that Strip casinos and others without bingo halls can get into the game.’’

The Las Vegas Gaming Inc. game, currently under review by state regulators, signals yet another move toward higher-stakes, progressive bingo action.

“There’s increased competition between casinos because players aren’t so loyal anymore. They chase jackpots,’’ Ducaj says.

Jumping on board, Arizona Charlie’s East has an expanded bingo parlor under construction and the Silverton is considering one. Sources say that a major Strip resort and a Downtown club are also eyeing their own bingo halls.

Attendance at the sixth annual Bingo World conference at the Riviera last week topped last year’s crowd. With some 50,000 bingo outlets nationwide, the industry has proven a durable, steady performer for churches, charities, Indian tribes and casinos across North America.

Delegates at the show praised Coast and Station casinos for state-of-the-art games and services. “The Gold Coast is right on the money,’’ said Larry Farrell, senior consultant with Arrow Gaming, a major supplier of bingo equipment. Others lauded the new facilities at Suncoast and Stations’ own progressive bingo package.

Across America and Canada, bingo’s demographics are on the rise. “We’ve seen a total metamorphosis in the last 20 years,’’ Farrell says. “Where average players were once women over 55, there are now men and women, young and old.’’

Indeed, the Italian import formerly relegated to carnivals and dingy parish basements is increasingly viewed as a crucial casino attraction. “The bingo player tends to be a slot player, so the two games work hand in hand,’’ Arrow vice president Bob Fulton said.

Fulton, citing the “deluxe” ambience at the popular Suncoast, calls bingo a “primary draw” at many neighborhood casinos. “And after the session is over, the players will put their change into the slots,’’ he added.

Indians are seeing the payoff, too, as tribal bingo halls have swelled from 25 to 140 in the past 15 years. And while they add casinos at many of those locations, they’re keeping the bingo halls alongside.

The Global Gaming Expo will host its first bingo pavilion this fall. The Sept. 17-19 G2E show already has attracted more than a dozen bingo industry vendors, including Game­­tech International, Jenosys Technologies, Fortunet, California Concepts, Rocket Bingo, ­­Atlantic Games and Arrow.

Las Vegas casinos, meantime, continue to build two to three bingo parlors each year, while expanding the use of electronic and hand-held games.

“It’s not a game for blue tints and blue collars anymore,’’ said one industry observer.