Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Charity pulls plug on one of oldest bingo games

By Cindy Schroeder,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — One of Northern Kentucky's oldest charitable bingos has ended.

        Citing declining profits and increased competition from other bingos and gambling boats, the Point/ARC of Northern Kentucky ended its 22-year-old bingo Feb. 1.

        Jo Ann Mahorney, an assistant director of the nonprofit agency that helps people with developmental disabilities, said The Point stopped offering its twice-a-week bingos after two other charitable bingos left the building about a year ago.

        “We decided to stop it after it ceased to be real profitable for us,” Mrs. Mahorney said. During the past five years, she said, The Point's bingo profits were down by about 50 percent. “It declined a little bit each year,” she said.

        In 1980, The Point opened the first charitable bingo in Covington, Mrs. Mahorney said. However, in the years since then, a number of churches, VFW halls and other groups opened their own bingos. “Today, there's a bingo every night on every corner,” she said.

        About a year ago, bingos operated by Citizen Advocacy and the Fraternal Order of Police shut down in the hall where The Point operated its game.

        “If they win big money at our bingo, they head for the casino boats where they can get a bigger jackpot,” Mrs. Mahorney said.

        Although statewide gross receipts for charitable gaming have risen each year since 1995, some “bingo hot spots” such as Northern Kentucky and Jefferson County have seen fierce competition from competing bingos, as well as the gambling boats in Indiana, said Scott Jones, general counsel for Kentucky's Department of Charitable Gaming.

        Although gamblers have a better chance of winning at their local charitable bingo, the payoffs are larger at the gambling boats, he said.

        “Before, if someone won $500 at a bingo game or pulltab, they'd spend more on pulltabs or bingo,” Mr. Scott said. “Now they head over to the casino boats and play the video slot machines.”

        In another change, McHale's Catering — the caterer for The Point Pavilion the past three years — has taken over management of the full-service banquet facility, and is redoing its interior.

        McHale's, now called McHales's Catering & Event Specialists, has spent about $100,000 on improvements that include a hardwood dance floor, new furnishings and chandeliers, carpeting and a new color scheme, said Jenny Schneider, general manager.

        Exterior renovations, including new awnings and moving the entrance to the front of the building, should be finished by the end of the year, Ms. Schneider said.


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