Another Charity Bingo Game Bites the Dust

70286-425x281-Bingo_CardKaty Texas bills itself as having ‘small town charm’ with ‘big city convenience.’ For 32 years part of that small town charm could be found at the Katy Elks Lodge #2628 on bingo nights. Like most small town lodges the one in Katy has weathered the ups and downs of a turbulent economy. The Katy Elks Lodge is asking for local support so they can continue to sponsor scholarships, school programs and Scout awards.

Factors contributing to the slowdown at the Elks lodge include competition from a nearby commercial bingo hall and a stagnant local economy. Because of these factors the Elks lodge in Katy has experienced a huge drop in their charitable bingo receipts. The losses have been so great that the lodge is considering dropping their bingo games. There has also been talk of shutting the hall for good.

Bob Boyett, past president of the Texas Elks State Association, told reporters “If things don’t turn around, we may have to shut it down. Darlene Crisamore, spokesperson for the Katy Elks Lodge said “We depend on bingo to pay our operating expenses and fund our programs. I don’t think most people realize how much we impact the community, and especially local youths.” Five years ago the Elks lodge in Katy frought in $70,000 from their twice weekly bingo games. During the past two years the figure has dwindled to $3,000.

Crisamore told reporters “Bingo is one of our most important fund-raising tools. However, due to a decrease in attendance and profits, we can’t continue to keep it going unless things turn around.” The Katy Elks lodge is not unique. There have been stories of churches and fraternal organizations shutting down their bingo games nationwide. Bingo halls are facing competition from large casinos and tribal bingo halls offering huge jackpots. In Katy the games are staffed by volunteers and all of the money generated is put back into the community. In 2009 the club was named “Best Overall Lodge Youth Program” in the state of Texas.

Among the awards given by the Katy Elks Lodge are the TESA Scholarship Contest, TESA Essay Contest, Grand Lodge Legacy Awards, Grand Lodge MVS Scholarships, Grand Lodge Americanism, Teenager of the Year, Vocational Grants, Eagle Scout Scholarships and Girl Scouts Gold Award Scholarships. Sadly all the awards will end if the lodge shuts its doors. Charities using bingo may want to investigate the possibility of using online bingo games to raise money. They would have access to a larger player pool immediately. American laws and attitudes about online gaming are changing and online bingo may become a reality in the very near future.

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