If the P.E.I. government had, say, $140 some thousand dollars to spare, what would you want it to do with the money?
Patch some potholes?
Trim some trees from along side roads so the ice will melt off faster?
Hire a school psychologist?
Truth is, there are lots of places where government could unload extra cash, if it actually had some to spare. It doesn’t.
So that’s the curious thing about our government deciding to spend a little over $140,000 to promote the game of Bingo.
They are not doing this for the benefit of today’s avid players; they’re doing it to get new players in the door, and it is not likely to work. Even government’s own revitalization report on the once popular pastime points out Bingo is an older person’s game.
Getting younger players in to take over as the older players pack it in is going to be a stretch. There are just so many other attractions competing for people’s time and many of them are actually free, including video games available on everyone’s smartphone.
Perhaps the best Bingo halls can hope for is to keep the Bingo players they have for a while longer, and to have those players introduce a few family members to the game of chance. Anything the halls can do to make the experience more comfortable for the players will keep them coming back and they should be able to do that on their own, including, as the revitalization report suggests, adding new games to the Bingo program.
Bingo does put some revenue into government coffers, and local charities are supported with Bingo revenues, so the halls do have some leverage to seek government support. They can even argue that government support for the racinos has made it more difficult for them to fill their chairs but surely those tax dollars that are being spent to promote Bingo are more urgently needed elsewhere.