Where are all the bingo players?

Minnesota gets center-stage in the country’s newspaper of record today. A front-page New York Times article explores the reason why bingo parlors and charitable gambling efforts are stumbling badly.

“We’ve sponsored several baseball teams here in the past, but we can’t give as much now because the smoking ban has really reduced our revenue,” said Charlie Lindstrom at the American Legion in Fergus Falls.” The same appears to be true at charity bingo locations in California, new Jersey, New York, and Washington.

Proponents of the smoking ban suggest everyone just suck it up.

“Around the country, whenever places have put in smoking bans, there is a six-month period where there is a drop in business in bars and restaurants, which where this gambling takes place, and after that, it starts to rebound,” said Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth.

That should be any minute now. The smoking ban took effect six months ago next week.

What’s happening on News Cut today: I’m working on putting together a series of presentations with women veterans of World War II. I’ve got one interview scheduled for early this afternoon. Maybe I can turn it around by tonight; we’ll see. There’ll be an event honoring the women veterans next month. More on that later. And you? What’s on your mind today?

  • I blame Craig Westover for the decline in bingo.

    Seriously, not all propents of the Freedom To Breathe Act are suggesting charitable gambling will “bounce back.” I’m not. I’m suggesting it has been going down for years, and the numbers back me up.

    Bingo and pulltabs have been on the decline for some years — even when the halls and bars were blue with smoke — not just in here Minnesota, but nationwide. The current decline in pulltab revenues many in the pro-smoke camp attribute soley to the statewide ban actually began months before FTBA began on Oct. 1, 2007.

    Blame the ban if you will, but it is clear to me that this multi-million dollar industry was in decline well before the air cleared.

    Bob Moffitt

    Communications Director

    American Lung Association of Minnesota

  • On a personal note, I look forward to seeing your piece on female WW II vets, Bob.

    My wife is a veteran (as am I) and she is a donor to the Women in Military Service Memorial in Washington, DC. It is located in Arlington National Cemetary, I recommend anyone going to DC to see it — admission is free, and it is very informative.

    Here’s a link to their website:


  • Minn Whaler

    The reason I don’t play bingo in casinos… smoke..

    so where and when are these not so profitable smoke free bingo halls

  • Here’s a website that may help you find a smokefree game of bingo, Minn Whaler:


    Tell ’em Bob from the Lung Association sent you. Have fun, and good luck!

    PS: Please patronize your local smokefree VFW and American Legion. I do, and so should all veterans, non-veterans, smokers and nonsmokers.