Longtime Hamilton bingo hall Delta Bingo is shutting its doors.
“It is with regret we have decided to close our Delta Bingo Hamilton location, effective January 21, 2014,” the business operators wrote in an email to the city. “This difficult decision was made only after very careful consideration.”
The operators say they will continue running similar facilities in St. Catharines and Fort Erie, and will shortly be converting both to E-Bingo over the traditional card and dabber game.
“The closure of Delta Bingo Hamilton will allow us to focus our efforts on upgrading and strengthening our remaining locations,” the email reads.
When reached by phone, Delta Bingo representative Chuck Lemenchick would not comment on the closure or any future plans for the building, which sits at 45 King St. East in the heart of the downtown core.
The north side of the building faces some prime downtown real estate, with the Lister Block, bars and restaurants like Baltimore House and Homegrown Hamilton and a new Core Urban office development nearby.
Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr told CBC Hamilton he hasn’t yet heard what business, if any, could be opening up in the building.
“While I have put out feelers, I have not heard of any development, nor have we anything formal before planning [committee],” he said.
Bingo — in its traditional form — is in decline across the country. Over the past decade, revenue at charity bingos has declined by about $200 million in Ontario alone.
There was a time when just about anybody could run a bingo hall, but that changed in the 1980s when provincial governments really got into the gaming business. Since then, commercial operators who are licensed by provinces run most bingo halls.
The province says it is trying to get the bingo business rolling again with a strategy that includes bringing in more electronic games.
Tony Bitonti, a spokesperson for Ontario Lottery and Gaming, told CBC last month that a multi-year plan is in place to revitalize the ailing industry.
“We’re looking at an eight-year model to make sure this is fully revitalized,” he said. “And we’re only at the end of year one in all of this.”
Delta, combined with Princess Bingo on the Mountain, distributes about $1 million to Hamilton charities each year. About 50 charities fundraise at Delta Bingo.
So what would you like to see in Delta Bingo's place downtown? Here is what some of you had to say: