Is Poker the New Bingo?

by Lou on December 20, 2005

Bingo has historically been a way for smaller, local charities in need of funding to raise money. With most small non-profits run on tight budgets, volunteers have historically staffed charity bingo games — where they serve as organizers, callers, and cashiers. But the past few years has been marked by a gradual decline in bingo proceeds.

Articles in newspapers across the country point to the decline in bingo as stemming from an aging population, and a slow-paced game that’s not attractive to younger people. But while bingo-based revenues have dropped dramatically, many charities are capitalizing on poker’s incredible popularity and have decided they’d rather switch than fight.

Not-for-profit organizations are switching from bingo nights to poker fundraisers in ever increasing numbers and the charities they serve are the beneficiaries of America’s growing romance with Texas hold’em. Charity fundraising is as market-driven as any business and charities are finding poker nights to be crowd-pleasers as well as extremely profitable.

One reason for the popularity of poker nights as charity fundraisers is poker’s popularity on television. Another reason is that people are more attracted to games in which skill plays a major role — as it does in poker — than they are to a game like bingo, which depends completely on luck.

Poker is where the money is and a younger, poker-playing population is more apt to spend greater sums on tournament buy-ins and entry fees than they are on bingo cards. Because of this, poker prize pools are larger than bingo jackpots, and the charities that raise funds by sponsoring poker tournaments benefit far more than they do from bingo.

While bingo isn’t dead yet, it does seem that poker’s popularity is benefiting players and charities in ways bingo operators could never have imagined even a few short years ago.

{ 1 comment }

Slim Fyfe September 3, 2008 at 1:04 am

I’ve only played bingo a couple of times, and only as a means of being social with a relative of mine who enjoys the game. I’d love to see poker replace bingo for charity events… it’s much more fun and engaging by far. Bingo just seems so mindless and pretty lame in comparison.

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