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Does bingo have a future as a casino game?


31 Aug 2018

What do Two Fat Ladies, a Dirty Knee, Danny La Rue and Duck And Dive have in common?

It’s nothing to do with a drag act picking up an injury while performing down the local pub on a Saturday night.

Instead, these are all popular bingo calls, with these names substituting for some of the numbers should they be called out.

Two Fat Ladies is 88, Dirty Knee is 33, Danny La Rue is 52 and Duck And Dive is 25.

However, such calls are rarely heard in casinos these days, as venues prioritise other games.

Yet, should this be the case and is bingo still a game that brings benefits to a casino? Let’s take a look:

The issues with bingo

Compared with other casino games, bingo requires a lot of space to play. Alongside the podium for the caller, there are potentially hundreds of tables required for players to take a seat at.

Imagine how many slot machines could be positioned in the same space? Not only are these one of a casino’s most profitable games, but they also require much less in the way of labour and upkeep.

Casinos are not against conceding portions of their gaming floors to allow certain games to function. after all, poker rooms are fairly commonplace, while the majority of casinos have VIP areas too.

The difference with such areas is that they offer sufficient profits to the casino. Bingo typically isn’t a game of this nature.

A report from the UNLV Center for Gaming Research highlighted that on 10 occasions between 1984 and 2017, casinos in Nevada lost money across their bingo rooms.

The worst of these outcomes arrived in 1990, when losses totalled $5.2 million.

What’s more, bingo is not a game that can be offered 24 hours every day. In quieter spells, casinos can opt to open a few blackjack tables and a couple of roulette wheels.

It is not productive to open half a bingo room, so in calmer times, such rooms are dead space.

The benefits of bingo

So why would a casino want to host a game that has a track record for costing them money, that is space consuming and will not be offered during all hours?

The birth of online bingo has had a positive impact on the game’s popularity, not only in terms of appealing to its traditional older audience, but also attracting younger millennials.

Among the reasons that players are drawn to bingo is that it is easy to learn and follow.

Players can buy one card per game or a selection. Each time a number is called, the player checks their cards and then marks off the number if they have it.

Prizes are awarded for various achievements, with the game over once the first player calls for a full house, meaning they have marked off their entire card.

Bingo is typically quite a social game. Play online and the chat rooms can prove popular hangouts, while groups of friends or relatives will descend together upon bingo halls.

By having a bingo location within a casino, additional friends or family members may be encouraged to pay a visit.

Once inside the casino, these unexpected and new guests may then find themselves drawn to other games too. These could be games that run with a higher house edge in favour of the casino.

The Plaza and Super Bingo Tournaments

In Las Vegas, bingo has largely been written off as a casino game in recent years. The last location on the Strip to enjoy the game was The Riviera, until its closure in 2015.

However, head Downtown and casinos do exist with bingo on the menu.

The Plaza Hotel and Casino is one such setting, offering both daily games and bigger tournaments every couple of months to appeal to the supporters.

With the daily games, the Plaza has found success in running events two hours apart from each other.

As players intend to pass the time while waiting for the next game, they generally stick around spending money elsewhere in the casino, whether it be on the slots, or eating in the restaurants.

Therefore, even if the players do make a profit playing bingo, they are likely to be a net loser overall.

In terms of bigger events, six times every year the Plaza hosts Super Bingo tournaments.

These take place over three days and recruit up to 1,000 players, with many arriving especially from other US locations.

Players are given the choice to buy tickets for each session or more of a package deal that also includes hotel accommodation for the tournament.