KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri voters will make a decision on Election Day regarding Amendment 4, which could help revive bingo gaming across the state.
Some metro groups use the game to help raise proceeds for charitable or religious purposes.
On Friday night, the Knights of Columbus hosted a bingo event at Finnigans in Kansas City.
Over 100 people, many of them longtime regulars, attended the event.
“This is our major money maker,” said Knights of Columbus member Steven Wiederholt. “This is where we get the money to hand out to all our charity events.”
Despite the festive atmosphere of the Friday gathering, bingo gaming has fallen on hard times in recent years.
According to the Missouri Gaming Commission, the number of bingo halls across the state has fallen from 435 in 2006 to 227 in 2018.
Gaming officials also told 41 Action News that revenue from bingo gaming has fallen from $103.5 million in 2010 to $78.5 million last year.
“Now we have to watch what we’re doing,” said Wiederholt. “If we have less than a 100 people here we’re kind of breaking even.”
Bingo events can be hosted by religious groups & charities, as well as fraternal, veteran, and service organizations.
As bingo gaming deals with a decline, hosts have also been experiencing a shortage of volunteers.
According to state rules, members of groups that host bingo games must be members of the group for at least two years before they can help run the event.
Wiederholt told 41 Action News that the rules can make it tough to host games.
“It’s a huge deal for us. We struggle to get workers to get down and help,” he said. “I think when they join us they should be allowed to come down and work.”
Help could be coming in the form of votes for Amendment 4.
If passed, advertising for bingo games would be made easier.
Furthermore, the amount of time that members of groups that host bingo games must be members of the group to help run the event would be reduced to six months.
Bingo groups that spoke to 41 Action News on Friday said the current rules are in place to help avoid the game be used for the wrong purposes.
However, Wiederholt said changes would go a long way.
“If we can advertise a little bit more and put out some more advertisements. We’re going to fill this hall up,” he said. “We’re going to bring in more customers. We’re going to be able to make more money that rolls into the community.”
With the vote happening on Election Day, longtime players at Finnigans on Friday hoped the amendment would pass.
“It’s fun. It’s talking, eating, and sometimes winning,” said bingo player Marilyn McGuire. “I’m going out Tuesday to vote and say yes.”