Casino bingo hurting charity games that benefit churches

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2002

BOSTON (AP) -- Charitable bingo games at churches and community centers are suffering because of the popularity of casinos, one of which features a bingo game with payouts of up to $250,000.

The number of licensed bingo games in Massachusetts last year was 916, just over half the number in 1984. Annual attendance has dropped from 10.4 million in 1984 to 3.7 million last year.

The result is less money for church choirs and school bands, the traditional beneficiaries of charitable bingo.

Massachusetts two years ago doubled the maximum bingo prize to $100, but many local games find they cannot compete with the likes of Connecticut's Foxwoods Resorts & Casino, where payouts can reach $250,000.

Cedric Woods, spokesman for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns and operates Foxwoods, would not disclose its daily or annual bingo attendance numbers.

The problem exists nationally, as well.

Overall consumer spending on consumer bingo is unchanged in the past 20 years, but charitable game revenue has fallen from $1.13 billion in 1998 to $974 million in 2001, according Christiansen Capital Advisors, a Washington consulting firm.

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