February 28, 2009

Bingo revival features shots, drag queens

Fundraisers in Wisconsin say drag queen bingo and bar bingo with shots is helping recharge a game waning in popularity.

Charities trying to raise cash in a poor economy are trying to change bingo's reputation as a stodgy senior citizen's game, The Wisconsin State Journal reported Saturday.

Bingo is trying to ... get away from the stereotype of mature women going to a bingo parlor. Some are really trying to attract a different group, because their audience is, well, dying, said Mary Magnuson, lawyer for the National Association of Fundraising Ticket Manufacturers.

In 1995, an estimated 1,300 charitable groups had active bingo licenses in Wisconsin. By last year, the number had dropped to 464 active licenses, the Journal reported.

While fewer churches host bingo games, other groups are setting up extra tables for overflow crowds, including drag queen bingo played through the winter in Madison to benefit the AIDS Network, the Journal reported.

Bar bingo also has become so popular that taverns ask charities to come in and run games, Magnuson said.

It's hugely popular, Magnuson said. You have a bunch of people in their 20s and 30s who pour in and play, but also drink, eat and have a good time.