Electronic games coming 0
Stafford Bingo Country will be getting a 21st-century facelift some time in early 2013, as the venerable gaming establishment gets set to move to an “e-gaming” model of play.
According to Tom Aikins, regional manager at Boardwalk Gaming and Entertainment, the parent company that also owns bingo halls in Barrie, Penetanguishene and Hawkesbury, the hall was recently bumped up to the first wave of 15 locations across the province to receive the electronic machines from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). This means that as early as January, players can expect to be using computers to take some of the manual labour out of the game, although not entirely.
“Most halls still continue with the paper bingo,” Aikins says. “Many players still don’t want to totally give that up yet.”
Essentially what happens is instead of buying paper cards and then dabbing the numbers as they’re called, electronic cards are loaded with money and then used to buy virtual cards on computers, which make the organization and playing process much more streamlined.
“Some of the older players who may have trouble keeping up with the six-strip packet,” says Aikins, “may find it a bit easier to get the computer to help them.”
This can make the game much more social, he says, because players are free to chat with each other instead of having to spend all their time scanning multiple cards and struggling to hear the numbers as they’re called.
As Laurentian Valley council heard at its committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday evening, one of the implications of OLG joining the hall as a partner is that the revenues from games will start to be Instead of splitting revenues between three parties as it is now (with licensing fees going to the municipality and profits being split between the owners and the charitable causes that are partnering for the games), the OLG’s involvement means four parties would be involved.
According to lottery licensing officer Claus Trost, while each slice of the profit pie may be temporarily lower, the overall income of the hall has been steadily dropping, and without something to draw more players in, and get them playing more, the hall would likely end up closing sooner rather than later.
“The revenue is dropping,” Trost says, “and it’s been going down for years. If nothing changes, the hall is going to close, because even through the municipality still gets a license fee for each bingo, and even though the charities were still splitting some money, the hall owners themselves, because they have overhead, were starting to lose money. Obviously, if they’re losing money, they’re going to shut the doors.”
The hope is that once the new machines are in, the hall can interest a younger crowd to start playing.
According to Aikins, the new machines will be installed some time between January and March of next year.
Ryan Paulsen is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist. Follow him on Twitter @PRyanPaulsen. even more.