Bingo hall offers starter kits with private room in effort to attract younger players

·2 min read
Players will have a more intimate experience and get a chance to learn the ropes in Bingo Country's private room, says manager Kyle Hambly. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)
Players will have a more intimate experience and get a chance to learn the ropes in Bingo Country's private room, says manager Kyle Hambly. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)

A bingo hall in Charlottetown has come up with a plan to entice customers who may never have played bingo before.

Kiwanis Bingo Country on Riverside Drive is closed during current COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, but hopes to reopen soon to players old and new with a private room, a bingo starter kit and a tutorial.

"It's often considered a game for a senior class of individuals — it's not widespread through the younger demographic," said Kyle Hambly, the manager at Bingo Country, speaking with Mainstreet P.E.I.'s Angela Walker.

"We don't see a lot of new players."

He said the game is about 100 years old and is well known across North America and Europe.

Because it requires concentration, he said it tends to not be a social game, but Bingo Country wants to change that.

'Have a little fun'

So the hall has developed an introductory package in a private room that people can book. Their bingo "starter kit" includes the room, bingo cards, dabbers, and a drink from the canteen.

My hope is to see the game stay alive. — Kyle Hambly

"It just creates an atmosphere where they're not in the rest of the bingo hall ... it enables them to speak with each other, to learn, to laugh, to have a little fun," without disrupting other players, he said.

A staff member will be on hand to explain how to play including more complex games such as bonanza or "hot ball."

The package includes promotional "bingo bucks" to entice players to come back.

They did a few successful test runs earlier this month, Hambly said.

"My hope is to see the game stay alive," he said. "Bingo is a fading activity, and unfortunately it doesn't need to be that way."

The bingo hall is currently closed because P.E.I. is in a period of COVID-19 circuit-breaker restrictions, and will open when public health authorities allow.

"My hope is that we can reintroduce the game ... and people will use it as a form of entertainment," Hambly said.

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