Times change. But the lesson we are taught by history typically hold true from generation to generation.
It wasnít that long ago that money raised from bingo was a key source of funding for many organizations. The beautiful facility on Elida Road built by the Humane Society of Allen County was basically built on bingo money. Itís now in financial trouble because those who saw bingo money as a ďsure source of fundingĒ were dealt a bad hand.
Thatís something governors and lawmakers need to keep in mind as they get tempted to depend on casino revenues to solve financial problems. When you gamble on gambling, the odds are stacked.
Look what happened to the popularity of bingo.
Statewide, bingo profits have dipped more than 25 percent in just the last four years, according to a story this week in The Lima News. Figures submitted to the Ohio Attorney Generalís Office show that bingo parlors statewide made about $142.2 million in 2009 from traditional bingo and instant games ó down 28 percent from $196.7 million in 2006.
The long-range numbers are even worse. As recently as the mid-1990s, the local Humane Society game would pull out 300 people or more. Today, itís closer to 100. Profits are down 50 percent to 60 percent from a decade ago, Gunter estimates. The losses have meant deep cuts for some nonprofits, along with a rush to think of new ways to make up for the declining bingo cut.
The declines are attributed to easier access to casinos, anti-smoking laws and so-called skill games such as video slot machines.
So, if bingo money is now going to casinos, whatís the problem with taxing the beejebers out of them?
Itís only a matter of time before something ó such as online gambling, takes its cut away from casinos. You also have to wonder whether there are enough gamblers to support the growing number of casinos. Within two hours of Lima, there are riverboats near Cincinnati and casinos in Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. Four more casinos are to be built in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo.
Beware of any budgetary solutions that will be tied to casino funds. Few people are longtime winners when betting against the house.