Inuvik organizations depend on bingos for fundraising, but games have yet to resume

·3 min read

Playing bingo is a pastime for many in Inuvik, N.W.T., but while many surrounding communities in the Beaufort Delta region have resumed playing, Inuvik residents are still waiting.

Bingos are also a primary way many local organizations raise money, and the lengthy wait is having an impact.

"It's probably going to set us back a little bit in terms of funding," said Davonna Kasook, the deputy leader for the Inuvik Coast Guard Auxiliary Search and Rescue Unit.

"Bingos have helped us get positive in terms of our budget, which has helped keep us afloat since this whole pandemic began," Kasook said.

The unit has even been able to purchase a new vessel through previous bingos. Kasook said without the game, it could "result in some detrimental events to our unit."

"A lot of the funding for many different organizations in town rely on bingos and without being able to raise those funds, a lot of their core functions can't be done," Kasook said. "So I just hope this will be resolved soon."

Mackenzie Scott/CBC
Mackenzie Scott/CBC

In-person bingos allowed

In-person bingos are allowed in Inuvik, but they are limited to 25 people under orders from the territory's chief public health officer.

However, the Town of Inuvik has only had one of those events since the pandemic started. The most popular bingos in town are televised.

"Media bingos are through the community channel through New North Networks, and their building has been closed," said Grant Hood, the town's senior administrative officer.

Tom Zubko, owner of New North Networks, said the company is working with customers and others to "find a way to bring back bingo games."

"We are well aware of how popular the pastime is and that people have been missing the activity," he said.

Hood said the town is trying to get bingos up and running but there are a lot of moving parts.

The town will have to have discussions with all the organizations involved and figure out a new way to operate the bingos while following social distancing protocols.

One of the main issues they will look at is how to sell bingo cards. "Because of the confined space ... that's where the challenge comes up," Hood said.

Chase the Ace also hasn't started

Other popular games like Chase the Ace also haven't started, but that's not because organizations haven't tried.

He said one group applied to sell Nevada tickets in a parking lot but the proposal was turned down for safety reasons and traffic congestion.

Then the same organization applied for a Chase the Ace but Hood said it also got turned down.

"It would've been a difficult thing ... with congregation and physical distancing, it becomes much, much harder," said Hood.

He said the media bingos are the easiest to get approved. However, the town is searching for new lottery committee members after the committee's tenure expired. "So it's just poor timing unfortunately," he said.

Under current regulations, no bingos can start from Dec. 10 to Jan. 4.

Hood said bingos might start up before then, but if they don't, they are looking at the beginning of the new year.