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Thunder Bay bingo hall looks to 'modernize the game'

As construction workers turn a former night club into a new gaming hall, the manager of Thunder Bay Community Bingo says pending changes will benefit its 70-plus member charities and not-for-profit groups.

Thunder Bay Community Bingo expected to re-open with electronic bingo in a matter of months

(Josh Lynn/CBC)

As construction workers turn a former night club into a new gaming hall, the manager of Thunder Bay Community Bingo says pending changes will benefit its 70-plus member charities and not-for-profit groups.

Iris McCoy-Slongo said a partnership with Ontario Lottery and Gaming will introduce electronic bingo when the operation relocates to a new site on Memorial Avenue.

There are some big changes for bingo players and volunteers in Thunder Bay, a new bingo hall with a new name and a partnership with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. We'll hear what those changes mean for the not-for-profit groups that rely on 3:43

Hall staff — not the member groups' volunteers — will be responsible for running the games there.

“Volunteers now can focus on being an advocate for their charities,” McCoy-Slongo said.

“They're going to still be in the hall … there'll be a presence from the charities of course.”

The changes are all about modernizing the game, she noted.

“It's no secret Bingo's been on the decline for years. This is kind of a way to try and enhance the game [and] give it a new, a new whole look.”

'A wonderful deal'

The old Tonic night club by the Super 8 Motel will be transformed into the new Community Bingo location in a matter of months.
Construction workers are turning a former night club in Thunder Bay into a new gaming hall. The building should be ready in the next few months, officials say. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

When it's ready, the organization will also change its name to Superior Shores Gaming Centre.

McCoy-Slongo saod members from Thunder Bay Community Bingo have spoken to charities and hall operators in cities that have switched to electronic bingo. Some even travelled to Sudbury to see its new hall.

"We've talked to the charities there, the hall operators there and everybody says it's a wonderful deal,” she said.

“Nobody says 'oh this is a terrible decision, we want to go back,' so that's kind of re-assuring.”

While some member groups have raised concerns about switching, in the end the vote was almost unanimous in favour of switching.

McCoy-Slongo noted another change will be shorter bingo sessions — down from four hours to two in length. That means a member-group's per-session share could drop, while giving other groups opportunities to hold more sessions.

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