Bingo A Big Hit in the Canadian Far North

Most people when they think of the Canadian far north envision dog sleds, boreal forests, long winters and endless tundra. Entertainment of the kind found in Canada’s major cities is scarce in the far north but Canada’s aboriginal peoples have found a great source of entertainment—radio bingo! Radio bingo enjoys immense popularity in the villages and hamlets of the Canadian far north.

Radio bingo has become so popular that an Edmonton Alberta radio station that provides radio bingo to aboriginal communities in expanding. CFWE-FM started small in 1987 and originally served only 10 aboriginal communities in the far north. The station’s signal now reaches northern Alberta. The station plays mostly country music with a focus on aboriginal artists and plays rap and hip hop on weekends. The station is operated by the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society (AMMSA) and is aboriginal owned and operated.

The station hosts radio bingo every Monday and Thursday from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Radio bingo players purchase their bingo cards through a network of corner stores, pizza shops, and native friendship centers. The bingo cards cost five dollars for a pack of three cards. When a player wins they call the station, give their card number and a verifier enters the card’s code into a computer. Checks are issued the following morning.

The station has given away $1.8 million in prize money since 1996. Radio bingo has enjoyed immense popularity throughout the far north. Many people make a social event out of the bingo games and invite friends over to play radio bingo and make “Indian Tacos.” Radio bingo provides aboriginal people with much needed entertainment during long sub zero nights in far north communities.

Although there are currently no figures available, online bingo sites have gained in popularity in northern Canadian communities. Increased broadband access has opened the internet for people in the Canadian far north, which has led many people to at least try out an online bingo game. Today it seems no matter where you go, bingo remains one of the most popular games in the world.

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