At a August 15th meeting, after hearing from delegations from some of the town’s charitable organizations, Town Council unanimously approved the first stage of Oakville’s participation in the Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) Commission’s Charitable Bingo and Gaming Revitalization Initiative (eBingo). This initiative will help sustain both the charities that count on bingo for fundraising, and the commercial operators.
“We’re aware that the bingo industry has been in a steady state of decline over the last several years,” Oakville Mayor Rob Burton said. “We only have one bingo hall left in Oakville and it helps 34 community charities through its bingo revenues. It’s our goal to make sure these groups continue to be strong.”
Electronic bingo is offered on electronic terminals with touch screens, where players touch the screen to dab the numbers. This new method of play will be offered simultaneously with the traditional paper version of bingo.
This revitalization program was launched by the OLG in 2005 to help enhance bingo revenue for local charitable organizations by providing operators the option to offer both paper and electronic versions of bingo and other charitable games. Because the pilot project in six sites was successful, the OLG plans to expand the initiative province wide at 15 locations, including Oakville’s Delta Bingo.
The town’s annual bingo licensing revenues may decrease in the short-term from $200,000 to a projected $85,000. The OLG predicts that charities and service clubs will see a long-term increase in revenue as eBingo helps bingo halls evolve and attract new players.
While the OLG will implement the new program, the Town of Oakville will continue to play an administrative role, determine the eligibility of charities, issue permits (instead of licenses) to these charities, ensure that the volunteers are members of the charities holding the event, approve and monitor the “use of proceeds” and validate and distribute reports about the funds to the participating charities.
The next step to bring eBingo to Oakville involves the signing of a contract between the Town of Oakville, the OLG, Delta Bingo (the commercial operator) and the local charity association.
Town Council also passed a motion tabled by Mayor Burton which requires Council to conduct public consultations and to review and approve the contract before signing.
“We have had an interest in this initiative from the outset and Council wants to stay involved in the process as it moves forward. This is the Oakville way,” Mayor Burton said. “This motion provides us with the opportunity to ensure that the type of electronic games offered at Delta Bingo are what Oakville wants.”
The OLG plans to launch eBingo at Delta Bingo in Oakville in early 2012. For more information about the OLG eBingo program, go to www.olg.ca.