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Bingo is in the cards

Feb 4, 2003 9:13 AM

The world’s biggest bingo exhibition returns to Las Vegas next month to showcase the latest developments in the game.

From church to charities to Indian tribes, bingo is bolstering bottom lines these days. And the game seems to be in play just about everywhere.

"The game is alive and well and popping up in places you never imagined,’’ says Lou Hilford of Loudon Consulting. "England, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Venezuela, Australia, Switzerland ”” you name it.’’

More than 2,000 leading bingo operators and vendors are expected for the seventh annual Bingo World Conference and Expo March 11-13 at the Riviera hotel-casino. Nearly two dozen seminars will be presented by some of the most respected names in the industry.

Among the highlights:

”¡ Player Loyalty Programs ”” From airlines and hotels to department stores and coffee shops, it seems that everyone has a customer loyalty card. Bingo halls are jumping onto the bandwagon with point-based reward systems. Mary O’Neill of the Ontario Lottery Corp. and Mike Imamura of Gametech discuss how to create alluring programs that don’t break the bank.

”¡ Play Responsibly ”” Bingo is gambling. Occasionally there will be a customer who has crossed the line from responsible play to problem gambling. "It isn’t your job to provide treatment, but you do have a responsibility to ensure that people who recognize the problem know where to look for help,’’ says Elizabeth George, CEO of the North American Training Institute.

”¡ U.S. Update ”” America is a patchwork of bingo regulations. How often have you seen an idea that would be an automatic success at your bingo, but the rules don’t allow it? It takes effort from everyone to change state bingo regulations. This seminar ”” conducted by Nelson Rose, professor at the Whittier Law School, and Bob Berg, deputy director of the Washington State Gambling Commission ”” explore the overall landscape of bingo in America, with a special focus on what Washington is doing to support its struggling charity bingos. 

”¡ Building Trust ””"Players must trust your game. You must be able to trust your staff, and your regulators have to trust your operation. It all starts with proper audit controls using the series and card numbers on your bingo paper,’’ says Bob Fulton of Arrow Gaming International, host of this session.

”¡ Indian bingo in the boardroom ”” Indian Bingo operations are in constant competition with their own casino operations. What are the strategies and politics of competing with slots on the casino floor? How does bingo capture its fair share of visitors, spending and resources within a tribal gaming operation? Tim Davis, bingo operations manager, Fort McDowell Bingo; Jerry Floyd, manager, Cherokee Bingo; and Mike Rypkma, bingo manager, Mystic Lake, answer those and other questions.

”¡ Secrets to success -- Indians run some of the most successful bingo operations in the world. It may be the games and prizes they offer. It may be the result of exceptional management, marketing and promotions. In this seminar, managers from highly successful Indian bingos — including John MacClain of Cherokee Bingo, Jan Linkhart of Spirit Mountain and Scott Gutberg of Mystic Lake -- offer snapshots of their facilities and explain the key elements of their operations.
”¡ Bingo and the Web --The fastest growing segment of computer users is the same age as the typical bingo player. The worldwide web could help to generate new bingo players by teaching people to play online. Many bingo operations use the web to deliver information, promotional calendars, contest entry forms, coupons, free games and even live bingo, according to Gian Perroni of Direct Edge Marketing, Susan Rumburg of Tropical Bay Gaming and Andrew Branscombe of Dot Com Entertainment.

 ”¡ Better Bingo Callers -- A good bingo caller has a mixture of talent, experience and training. The variety of games and technology involved in today’s bingo programs requires that callers are more capable than ever. J.D. Duke of Reflections Bingo aims this session at managers responsible for teaching callers and floor workers.

Some 50 exhibitors ranging from American Games Inc. to Planet Bingo will be at Bingo World, which is sponsored by Multimedia Games, Onnam Native American Gaming, Universal Manufacturing Corp. and Gem Communications.

For registration information, log onto www.bingoworldexpo.com.