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Poker - The New Bingo?

The future of bingo charity organizations are facing a dark time as recent data clearly shows. The Department of Revenue in Illinois has published updated statistics regarding bingo organizations in the state, it appears that bingo's revenues has dropped by more than 40% during the past decade.

While in 1993 bingo revenues exceeded $7.8 million, in 2005 they were much lower – only $4 million were gathered by bingo organizations. Even more, there is a steady decline in the numbers of registered organizations from 1,400 in 1993 to 800 in 2003. There are many reasons for the decline, most of them are economical: First, when a bingo card costs $1 it's very hard to make a profit. Second, bingo organizations employ many workers. Also, there has been a decline in the popularity of bingo during the last decade.

Charity organizations soon found themselves in a great need for new funds in order to continue with their daily activities, and soon they came out with a new idea for raising new funds – poker tournaments:

“Financially, bingo is a dog with fleas,” Guth said. “These poker tournaments are much easier to handle, you can earn $10,000 or $15,000 in one shot.” So Guth is the director of the Ken-Rock Community Center, a non-profit organization.

Riding the wave of Texas Hold'em's popularity, charity organizations found a new, easy and profitable way to refill their depleted budgets, and Ken-Rock does not stand alone. “We probably have 30 charities around town that are doing this right now, and each one is hosting up to four events a year,” said Jim Kasputis, holder of Rockford Charitable Games.

Since state law prohibits charity organizations from conducting more than four casino-events a year but apparently that's more than enough for them: “It used to be that every charity in town had a dinner dance fundraiser, so you had to stop doing the dinner dance and you did bingo games,” said Director Shannon Scheffel HCC. “Then everybody was doing bingo, and now it’s not as profitable as it used to be. We stopped doing bingo last summer. The money we made just wasn’t worth the time and effort it takes to organize the games every week.”

As for now it seems that poker tournaments would replace bingo halls, but little can be said about the future of bingo with complete guarantee, it has its ups and downs, like every gambling game.

Scott Hayes - Editorial Staff - 20.12.05

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