Three Incredible Http: Transformations

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I grew up playing bingo since my Dad was a bingo caller for the Elks. He was also a Shriner, a Mason, a Lion, and an overall charitable person with organizations that rely on bingo games to support their service to the needy. My sister is heavily involved in the Women's Moose organization that also relies on bingo for much of their philanthropic work. Me - well, I just love to play bingo to support all my favorite local charities as my Dad taught me to do. Charities who operate bingo games to raise money are seriously suffering from the smoking bans in bingo halls.

In a report published by the New York Times, there is solid evidence that charities are suffering from the smoking bans. Some charities have had to close their bingo operations because the smokers made up the largest percentage of their customer base. Other charities have lost up to 50% of the revenues over the last year. When news broke about casinos in Atlantic City banning smoking, as do the casinos in Colorado, I was relieved to know the trend is continuing.

Don't get me wrong, I smoke, but do not like smoking around people who are on oxygen tanks or become ill from my smoking. I am happy to step outside or move if someone next to me if affected by my bad habit. Oddly enough, the nonsmokers are really the ones who benefit from the smoking bans, but they do not support the bingo operations by showing up to play and donate to the charities. Bingo employees and volunteers who do not smoke are happy about a smoke-free workplace, but many have had to find new jobs when their bingo operation shut down.

So many bingo halls have closed down from lack of nonsmoker support, you would think there could be a smoking only bingo hall to keep the charities afloat, and let the nonsmokers go to the smoke-free casinos. Then everyone would be happy. Lawmakers say they are more than making up for the money that charities are losing by keeping the public healthier. Of course people will be healthier by not being exposed to second-hand smoke, but are lawmakers proposing to donate any of their monetary savings to the charities that lost money due to the smoking bans?

No. Sure, people could just donate money to the Elks, the Shrine, the Moose, or other charitable bingo operators, but bingo players still love the chance to win some of their investment back occasionally. Is it gambling? Yes. Sometimes the prize is money and sometimes the prize is something fun donated by retailers. But, when I played charitable bingo, it was much more than gambling. Often times, bingo players have opportunities to do other things for the organizations, like have dinner at the bingo hall with proceeds going to the charity.

Bingo players often times purchased raffle tickets, Shrine circus tickets, or gave other support for charitable events because it was convenient timing to give while the giving was good. If you win a bingo prize, you give even more. I have attended some nonsmoking charitable bingo games and nonsmoking casinos in Colorado. Sadly, some of my sister's favorite bingo halls have closed after the no smoking bans took effect.

We wanted to support the Elks, the Shrine and the high school music programs, so we ventured out to other bingo halls where these charities operated. Amazingly, I found that not being able to smoke did not really damper my few hours of fun and helping to support charities. Actually, the bingo halls and casinos make it very convenient to leave your chair and take a few puffs in between games. There are plenty of intermissions and smoking locations that make up for not smoking at your table.

I have been on airplane trips where the time in between smokes was longer than at the bingo hall. At one casino in Colorado, if you wanted to leave your hot slot machine to go smoke, the attendant brought a "Hold Machine" sign over to your slot machine and held it for you until you returned. The smoking patios at the casino were located every 20 feet, even on the second and third floors of the gaming areas.

I was also relieved that I did not have to smell those nasty cigars people smoke in bingo halls and casinos. Smokers: think about getting up out of your chair for 5 minutes if you have to and supporting your local charities again through bingo games. They really need you back. Sources: After the Smoke Cleared, Where Did All the Bingo Players Go?