P.E.I.'s bingo industry in decline, looking for help
Province considering higher jackpot limits to help struggling operations
Prince Edward Island’s government is eyeing a lifeline for the struggling bingo industry, which has fallen on hard times in the face of casinos and online gambling.
Some Island operations have closed their doors for good; others are cutting back on games.
The province has reduced licensing fees for smaller bingo operations, and now they’re looking at increasing jackpot limits.
“We've had requests from some bingo establishments to increase the size of their prizes,” said Justice Minister Janice Sherry.
“We're still looking at that and I would say the verdict is still out at this time.”
The province says it understands that some charities depend on bingos, and that revenues are dropping.
In the last seven years, a dozen of the P.E.I.’s 45 bingo operations have shut their doors, as the age of bingo aficionados grows older and young people are attracted to other kinds of gambling.
"A sign of the times for one thing,” said Steve MacDonald, with the Parkdale-Sherwood Lions Club. “The dollar doesn't go as far as it did 15, 20 years ago."
Closed-circuit games broadcast from Alberta and called “satellite” bingo have also failed.
In a bid to survive, bingo halls are banding together, forming a P.E.I. association they hope will be up and running in the coming weeks.
"Hopefully when we get the association going, we can work that in that one's not trying to outdo the other," MacDonald said.