Ohio nonprofits concerned about declining bingo revenuesWritten by Associated Press | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Nonprofit groups in Ohio that benefit from operating bingo games are seeing declining revenues.
Figures submitted to the Ohio Attorney General’s office show that bingo parlors statewide made about $142.2 million in 2009 from traditional bingo and instant games — down 28 percent from $196.7 million in 2006, the Media Network of Central Ohio reported.
Many nonprofits that operate bingo parlors, including Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, point to the economy as one reason for the slump in revenue.
“Right now nobody is generating a lot of income for anything,” said Bob Funk, quartermaster for Ohio’s Veterans of Foreign Wars. “People don’t have a lot of money to spend.”
The nonprofit groups look to competition from skill-based games and casinos as another reason behind the declining revenue.
Casinos already exist in nearby states and voter-approved casinos planned in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo.
People are not going to “come in and play tickets” if there are casinos in every corner of the state, said Don Lanthorn, department service director for the Ohio American Legion.
“There are only so many gambling dollars out there,” he said. “We’re very concerned.”
Skill games expanded rapidly across Ohio in 2006, and Gov. Ted Strickland signed a law in 2007 banning cash payouts on skill games and limiting prizes to merchandise worth $10 or less, the news network reported.
Michele Wilson, manager of Sunrise Bingo in Zanesville, which raises money for Holy Trinity Mission Church, said that in 2009 the bingo parlor took in half of what it did in 2005.
Several nonprofits are pushing for legislation that would allow electronic bingo machines in licensed halls.
Currently there are three types of bingo licenses available in Ohio — two for traditional bingo and one for pull-tabs — but some groups are hoping to add a fourth for electronic bingo machines, the news network reported.
“Video games make more money than ripoff tickets,” Funk said. “In order to compete with the casinos, posts will need to have some video gaming.”
No legislation allowing electronic bingo machines has been proposed, but advocates have met with legislative leaders, Funk said.
State Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chesterland, confirmed that lawmakers are looking at the issue, the news network reported.
“We’ve been looking at ways to allow charities and fraternal organizations to retain their fundraising capacity against the casinos, state Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chesterland, said.
Grendell, who didn’t expect the issue to be brought up until at least 2011, said he didn’t have any objection to video bingo.
“It’s similar to what the tracks will be doing,” he said.
Lanthorn said that it’s not about expanding gambling.
“It’s about the survival of these charities,” he said.