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All halls try to get the best callers possible.  They must be able to control the flow of the game and be very personable at the same time.  Their speech needs to be of top quality.  One game in Bellingham, Washington found a great resource for consistently hiring good callers – the drama department of the local University.  There were plenty of students in search of any opportunity to be on stage and also make money which made for an ideal combination for both the game and the students.

From: Big Brothers / Big Sisters   Bellingham, Washington (Closed) • 5/2/13

Ever wonder why some promotions are not as successful as planned?  A game in Spokane, Washington came up with a solution they used to increase the chance of success.  Once all the planning for a promotion was done, a full hour was dedicated to all the managers playing devil’s advocate and examining the promotion to expose possible weak points.  Almost every promotion was improved – some were delayed indefinitely or reformatted and put through the process again.  This process does require all to be comfortable saying what they really think.

From: SYSA Bingo  Spokane, Washington • 5/1/13

To come up with an ideal merchandise prize is no easy task.  A game in Washington had a couple unique prizes that proved to be very popular.  The first was a hot-air balloon ride for 4 obtained from a local balloon pilot.  The second was a helicopter ride for 2 over the city obtained from the regional airport.  Both were scheduled to be used on the same day.

From:  Ferndale Band Boosters   Ferndale, Washington • 5/1/13

An Oregon bingo hall had a game called the Lincoln line.  An actual clothes line was strung across the desk area and every time “B” 5 came out, $5 was clipped to the Lincoln line.  The last game of the night was a 50 / 50 split with a bonus for all the cash on the Lincoln line.  The cost to play was $1 per 1-on sheet or $2 for a 3-on.  This game was the most profitable split game they had.

From: Not Attributed • 5/1/13

For great good neighbor prizes, turn to what is in season in your local area.  A game in Blaine, WA used that concept to great advantage.  In Spring – flowering plants -- in strawberry season they gave away flats of strawberries -- in the summer, boxes of peaches – in the fall, pumpkins.  The key was to use local products and suppliers.  It was very successful for them and I should know --- they were a strong competitor of mine.

From: Forest Grove Bingo, Blaine Washington (closed) • 5/1/13

This ‘Shop Talk’ page is intended to provide practical and useful information and ideas provided by, and being shared by, managers just like yourself.   This information consists of the unique, proven, and aggressively protected, tips and tricks that managers have found from experience, improves their game.  Please take note of the source of the information and feel free to contact them with your comments and experience with their ideas. If you would like to share your comments with other managers, email them HERE and they will be posted on this page. Check back often as this page will be updated frequently.

Attending conferences is one of the best ways for bingo owners, operators and managers to improve their knowledge and skills.  The conferences listed are for North American Gaming Conferences being held from July to December, 2013. HERE

A Reminder!  Not all of the Conferences will feature Bingo - so - check their websites for current information.  While you're at it, find and take advantage of any "early-bird" registration discounts that they may be offering.

From: Loudon Consultants • 5/7/13

This promotion takes Power Ball to the next level without adding extra time to a session.  Instead of having one number posted for all games, with this option you assign a different number to each of your regular games. If you have ten games, the first ten numbers called on bonanza are used with each one being assigned to a game.  For example: “B” 7 is tagged to game #1, “O” 74 is tagged to game # 2, “B” 14 is tagged to game # 3,  etc.  etc. Bingo on the posted number and you win the pot provided you paid the fee to be eligible.  I suggest a $2 fee with 50% going to the pot. The advantage is the fun of different numbers but it takes more tracking and all the numbers need to be recorded and displayed.  From: Bingo World • 5/13/13

A lot of money is spent on attracting new players to our halls.  What we do after the players enter for the first time determines how often they will return.  The first order of business is to be able to quickly identify just who those new players are.  Ric Newgard, manager of Seattle Jr. Hockey Bingo, developed a unique way to solve that problem.  Ric made an information sheet showing all the bingo patterns used during that session, had it printed on ultra-bright yellow paper and given to all new players.  Because that sheet is so visible, all floor workers and manages can easily and instantly know who the new players are.  What a great first step toward making a positive first impression. Submitted by Clyde Bock after conversation with Ric Newgard • 5/17/13

The article in the Bingo Resource Guide entitled How To Turn New Players Into Regulars expands on this theme and gives multiple examples of what can be done to not only identify but then entice new players to return.  

Idea Exchange – Manager to ManagerOne of the things I have enjoyed most in my 35 year bingo career is exchanging ideas with other managers from around the country.  These chats have saved me from learning a lot of things the hard way and saved my organization a great deal of time and money. Even now, I still gather and use ideas collected from other managers.  As a result, I have a library of ideas and very practical tips and tricks that could help save you time and money.  If you are interested in exchanging ideas, email me to arrange a one on one phone conversation and let’s improve both of our games.  Clyde4bingo@comcast.net • 5/29/13  Update - This idea was liked so much, it’s own page was created HERE.

I always look forward to every opportunity to meet with other managers from across the country.  I will be attending the Class II Summit HERE next week in Anacortes, Washington and I am sure to come away with many new bingo promotions and different ways to improve my bingo operation.  I will be making several entries in the “Shop Talk” page over the next couple weeks as I summarize what was discussed at the Summit.  It does not matter what size game you have as everything is relative -- It is the concept that counts, not the amount of the prize. Clyde Bock • 5/31/13

Special Advertising - A while back I was walking through Mystic Lake Casino on my way to their bingo hall.  Located right next to the walkway was a full sized cardboard cutout of a bingo winner with a very big smile holding a double fistful of cash. The player’s name along with the date and amount won was pasted across the picture.  Everyone walking through the Casino was bound to notice.  What an incredible advertising gimmick.  Not only could you relate to the winner but the speech bubble contained the words, “Join me at bingo and you too can win $60,000.”  That ad had everything - entertainment – clarity – enticement and its most important feature: it had my attention.  Their bingo manager, Scott Gothberg, mentioned that not only were the cutouts effective, they were inexpensive to have made. All you need is permission and a picture. Clyde Bock • 6/11/13

Use Birthdays As a Fun Way To Earn a Bonus

I am always on the lookout for any new type of bonus that will entice players to play extra sessions.  The key words are “extra sessions.”  What follows does not have any limitations – in fact every player has an opportunity to bingo on their birthday month every session.  That translates into an “earn a bonus” concept that uses birthdays as a trigger to win a bonus.  The odds suggest that a higher bonus can be offered than what is typical for simply winning during your birthday week or month.  To help ensure that the concept is within your budget, establish a rule that the first player to win the bonus receives the full amount, all others that session receive half the amount.  You may average about one winner per session.

Now let’s explore what it takes to set up the game, how it is played and what are some possible prizes.  In my case, setup was very easy as we have 12 “in-pack” sheets that are listed as regular games.  However, you could select any 12 games.  Assign a month to each game and include that information on the program - game #1 is January, game #2 is February etc. etc.  To win a bonus, a player must be a single winner on the game that corresponds to their birthday month.  As my birthday is December 3rd, to win a bonus I would have to be a single winner on game number 12.  To win a larger prize, I would have to not only bingo on game #12 but also bingo on B3 – the actual date of my birthday.  

Sample Prize Options.  As you can tell, I am a big fan of prizes that encourage players to return.

Good - Player bingos on correct game and they win $25 cash bonus - $100 if on correct month and day

Better - Player wins corresponding gift certificate (bingo bucks) that must be redeemed at a future date.

Best - Player wins coupon that will pay a corresponding bonus the “next time they win.” (Ex: Coupon valid for $25 cash bonus paid upon next bingo win)  Redemption could be that same session or maybe ten additional sessions in the future. Most players will want to return for as many sessions it takes to redeem the coupon.  This fact allows the coupons to potentially have even greater value.

This bonus game is drawing a lot of attention as all players have a chance to win a bonus every session. For a more complete list of traditional and non-traditional birthday bonus concepts, check out the article entitled “Birthdays” and become a leader in your competitive marketplace.

Submitted – Clyde Bock    Clyde4bingo@comcast.net  • 7-16-2013

Pick-An-Employee  •  Old Game – New Twist

Holly, the bingo manager for “40 Et 8” Bingo in Vancouver, Washington, has put a new great twist on an established promotion.  I have seen and also used many different types of “pick-a-prize” schemes that allow players to pick an item for an extra prize. Such items include envelopes, pumpkins, stars, Easter eggs, Christmas stockings etc, etc.  The variety is endless and Holly has developed one more that I think should move to the top of the list.  Her promotion was billed as “Pick-An-Employee.”  A value known only to Holly was assigned to each employee and the winning player “picked an employee” to win the extra prize.  Of course, once an employee was picked, they were not available for the rest of the session.  This personalized the promotion and turned something rather bland into something extremely fun and exciting.  Congratulations Holly!!

Note: An alternative to a manager assigning a value -- prior to the start of the session, employees pick a sealed envelope that contains their surprise amount.   

Even more fun: Turn this session into an “Employee Appreciation“ event.  In addition to the player prize, the secret envelopes also contain various employee bonus awards. For ex: Free food, hour off with pay, $20 added to next check, etc. etc.  If an employee is not picked, they still get to open their envelope to receive their prize. Clyde Bock • 7/24/13

Friday of last week, Video King released their Fall newsletter. Along with, features on some of their new games, the Grand Opening of Gila River’s New Vee Quiva Hotel and Casino, the Victory Casino Cruise Ship out of Cape Canaveral, and tips on preventive computer maintenance, Video King brought Promoting Bingo and the BRG to the attention of their readers while featuring one of the BRG’s co-founders, Clyde Bock.  While the entire newsletter is a very worthwhile read, we especially appreciate the time and effort they put into covering Promoting Bingo and the BRG. If you haven’t received your digital copy, you can find it HERE.  To view all of Video King's past newsletters, they can be found HERE. PB/BRG • 9/2/13

As we all know, the image of bingo for most non-players is a tough thing to change.  It seems indelibly etched in their DNA. But ‘tough’ is not impossible. Putting bingo in the context of what is important in people’s lives today, and promoting it’s benefits, could help the game to be seen in whole new light. According to scientific research conducted over the last decade, playing bingo is actually good for your mental health as you grow older…and for a couple of reasons. As baby boomers move into their retirement years, maintaining good mental health is something that will be very important to them. The short article HERE, outlines the benefits of playing bingo that has been scientifically proven in various research projects. This is the type of  information that can be a game changer for the perception of the game.  To work, it needs to be heavily promoted by every bingo hall and business in the industry…always. Use the attached article, or something similar, in your newsletters, emails, direct mail, and any other creative ways. Suggestions along these lines are always welcome. Email us your ideas and we will post them here on Shop Talk.  Gary DeNoble • 9/21/13

Bingo Tips From the Experts Who are the “Experts?” The folks who work tirelessly in the Bingo Halls every session! These are random “tips” that can work for any Bingo anywhere

Idea # 1

Surveys consistently show that 70% to 80% of our players change halls or quit Bingo altogether due to the attitude or indifference shown by Bingo Staff. Bingo managers must always be aware of this and make sure your staff are always in a friendly, helpful frame of mind when working.

Train and discipline your staff to ALWAYS be on the look out for “First” time Bingo Players.  They are your future!  The question is how do you spot them?  To be honest, they are as easy to spot as someone walking in NUDE with a police red light flashing on their heads!

If you have ever been sitting at admissions selling books, they are the ones who come in with all the questions. How much are your books? How many specials do I need?  Do you play Bonanza here?  Do you have break-opens or pull tabs ?

So, now that you know who they are, what do you do about it?  The answer is real easy, doesn’t cost anything and works very well.

Set it up with the folks at admissions to inform the manager about the newbies. Then have the manager or your best floor worker go over to them and say, ““Welcome to ABC Bingo!  We’re real glad to see you!  Did you get a game schedule on the way in?  The canteen is just over there, the burgers are great here, the bathrooms are just out that corridor on your right, and if you need anything, just give me a wave.  I’ll be keeping an eye on you and be happy to answer any questions you might have during the session.”   Make sure the worker drops by 3 or 4 times and checks on how the newbies are doing.

What kind of an impression do you think these new folks have of your Bingo?  All it took was a little time and effort with the result being you now have new regulars who you know will tell their Bingo friends.

Idea # 2

Probability Tables?

Ever used them?

Ever seen them?

Ever heard of them?

My good friend Greg Pollock of Arrow International turned me on to these many years ago and I never leave home without them, to coin a phrase.

Probability tables take the guess work out of adding a new game and can give you some peace of mind when you do.  Simply put, probability tables can give you an educated guess as to how many balls will be called before any bingo game is won. All you need to know is how many cards or faces are in play

Example;  Letter X ,  with 500 cards in play averages 35.39 balls called

                             with 1000 cards in play averages 33.13 balls called

                             with 2000 cards in play averages 30.84 balls card

and so on. Every Bingo game ever played has a probably table for that particular game.

A note of caution here, we all know that you only need 24 numbers called to get a full card, but who has ever seen that happen. Probability tables are a guide not a rule.

What is nice about these tables is this.  Let’s say you want to add a new progressive game but you are not sure whether to start the game in 48 or 50 or 52 numbers.  Probability tables take the guess work out of setting that number and give you an educated guess.  

Rule of thumb -- start off low as you can always add a number when needed or until the pot starts to build. Players want a $1000 jackpot in 70 numbers and the hall wants a $100 jackpot in 45 numbers.  The probability tables will help you find the right balance between the needs of the hall and the desire of the players.  

Your distributor may already have the probability tables you need or they can get them if requested.  

Idea # 3

Why do people play Bingo??????  We have all collectively pulled our hair out over that question from time to time now haven’t we?

Well a few years back the Bingo Bugle magazine did a survey on this to try to find out, and the answer was surprising at times yet overall not surprising at all.

Who would have thought that only 13% of players actually play Bingo with the intention of winning money?

Here is how the survey broke down,

62 % Played for the entertainment

21% Played for the excitement

13% Played for the money

  2 % To support the charity

That leaves an additional 2% that have no idea why they are there.

What is interesting to note is that 83% play Bingo for the entertainment and excitement aspect of the game.

On many occasions when doing seminars and I mention that 21% play for the “excitement” of the game, I get a lot of blank stares.  Trust me -- most Bingo players really don’t expect to win and when they get actually get close or “set,” the adrenalin starts flowing and that causes a lot of excitement.

The real important thing, to you, the Bingo Manager, when considering the success of your operation is to always remember that 83% of your players are there for the entertainment and fun of the game.   Hence the need to make your hall a fun place to go. Throw in some fun things from time to time  Take care of your guests, give them an honest game and they will come, again and again.  Larry Farrell • 11/19/13

Chase The Ace

You may not have heard of this game but it has real potential for profit and excitement.  Many organizations run a 50 – 50 raffle with the sponsoring organization keeping 50% of total sales and the winner getting the other 50%.  A version developed by a Legion Hall (VFW) in Noel, Nova Scotia added a second level of prize to the game.  

50% of sales is still retained by the organization.  The winner of the raffle wins an instant 20% of sales.  The winner now picks a card from a deck.  If they pick the Ace of Spades, they win the remaining 30% plus the accumulated jackpot.  If they do not pick the Ace of Spades, the 30% is added to the jackpot and the selected card is removed from the deck.  This continues until someone picks the Ace of Spades.  An account of this game can be found by searching the internet using the keywords “Noel Nova Scotia chase the ace.”  Their jackpot reached over $160,000 and the organization was ahead by well over $200,000.  

The concept is what is important.   Any organization can take advantage and increase revenue from a 50 – 50 raffle.  Moving this game to a bingo hall is easy.  To give this game a distinct bingo flavor and push the odds even more in favor of the house, use a deck of 75 bingo cards.  The game now starts with 75 cards instead of 52.  You could change the game to “Find B1”  or  O66 or  ????

Points to remember.

When a staff member reaches to pick the winning ticket, make sure they wear a short sleeve shirt, raises their hands in the air and display open fingers for all to see.  Spread the cards on a table and have the winner point to the card they select.  The worker confirms the choice then turns over that card and shows the crowd what the card is.  If the Ace of Spades was not picked, turn over the remaining cards to everyone can see that the Ace was really there.

When selling tickets, use different colors and take extreme care when recording audit numbers of tickets sold.  

Track the cards picked and the associated winning tickets for audit purposes.

The selected card is removed from the deck, and the deck is secured for the next round.  Larry Farrell • 11/20/13

A lot has been written about “Having Fun at Bingo.”  This discussion falls into the category of using good neighbor games with a maximum budget of $100. Some objects trigger memories when paired with each other – Mutt and Jeff, Batman and Robin, biscuits and gravy just to name a few.  To these combos Iadd “Bacon and Eggs.”  Use of well-known combos contribute to a successful promotion.  A package of bacon and a dozen eggs cost less than $8. Twelve of these combos cost under $100.  Promote a morning session as “Bacon and Egg” day giving out a combo as good neighbor prizes to the left on odd games and to the right on even games.  Eggs may not need to be refrigerated but the bacon should be kept in a cooler until the end of the game. The key is to have fun so remind players to remember bingo when they eat their FREE breakfast.

Note:  Extensive options for good neighbor concepts can be found in the Bingo Resource Guide as an article under “Fun Good Neighbor Games.”  

Clyde Bock • 11/21/13

New Twist to “Split-the-Pot”

This new game is based on the “Find-The-Ace” game created in Eastern Canada as reported by Larry Farrell in an earlier Shop Talk article.  Many halls run a special game where sales are split between the hall and the winner.  Usually this split is based on a percentage of 50 / 50 or 60 / 40 or even 70 / 30 as was the case in our hall with the player getting the 70%.  From that we created a split game that also includes a player-funded jackpot. We used a percentage of 35 / 65 with the 65% going to the player.  The player share was then split into two parts (A & B) using a 70 / 30 ratio.  “Part A” is for the consolation and “Part B” is for increasing the jackpot.

A 75 number display board is mounted on a wall in the hall.  One number is assigned as “Jackpot,” ten numbers are designated as “Pick Again” and sixty-four numbers are designated as “Part A” consolation winner.  The winner of the game picks a number from the board and wins the amount listed under that number; hence “Part A” becomes the minimum they will win.   If the jackpot is won, the player receives the posted jackpot plus “Part A” and “Part B” for that game. The board is then reset with the jackpot starting at $100.  If the jackpot is not won, part “B” is added to the jackpot.  Once a number is picked, it is removed from play.

Using this method establishes a growing jackpot that is (1) funded by the player and (2) gets easier to win every time played and (3) the hall is making an additional 5% (35% vs 30%). So far, the spending on this game equals or exceeds the spending on the original 70 / 30 split game.

For Example: $300 in Sales = Hall @ $105   Player @ $195 (split 70 / 30 = Part A @ $137 and Part B @ $58) Player is guaranteed $137 Part A with $58 Part B going to the jackpot.  Clyde Bock • 12/18/13

Add a Charity Game – Increase Your Profit and Goodwill With-in Your Community

Adding a charity game may be one of the best investments your organization can make.  Not only will your organization make additional revenue, but money will be available to help other non-profits in your market area.

The key factors that make this a winning combination are (1) the players will play for a very small prize, (2) up to 70% of additional revenue stays with your organization and (3) other organizations are thrilled to receive funding for their projects. The first hurdle to overcome is the concept that your charity should give up revenue to help an outside organization.  But the bottom line is your organization also gets more revenue.  Do not underestimate the value and increased loyalty that goodwill can bring to your organization.  After all, this is the same community that supports your bingo.  

What follows are two examples of what we have used and I am sure you will develop one that best serves your circumstances.  

Example # 1.   We have 11 regular games.  “Charity Cards” were single 1-on cards sold prior to the start of the session for $1 each.  The winning number of each of the 11 games was marked on the “Charity Cards.”   At the conclusion of the 11 regular games we paid a free machine (value $25) to anybody that had a line bingo or 4 corners or stamp anywhere on the card.  Very few sessions had winners.  The average per head spend was around $.50 which generated about $700 per month revenue for our organization and $700 for the selected group for that month.  This method did not add any time to the session.

Example # 2.  After the success of example 1, we decided to expand the program and raise even more money for the project.  Even though it added time to the session, we added an insured special to our program. 1-on cards still sell for $1 each and we play to a coverall.  The insurance covers a blackout in 48#’s paying $20,000 down to $1,000 in 54 #’s with a consolation of only $25.  Insurance cost is $.18 per card.  After 12 numbers are called, we stop the game and pay every line bingo a free machine ($25 value).  We average one free machine per session. The per person spend jumped to over $2, more than making up for the cost of insurance, cost of free machines and $25 consolation.  We now guarantee a $1000 monthly charitable contribution with our parent organization getting around $3000 in additional revenue after all cost and prizes.

The $1000 per month recipient is expected to support and promote our bingo game.  A true “Win – Win” for all involved.  Clyde Bock • 1/1/14

Play “Wheel of Fortune”

Wheel of Fortune has been a popular game show for over 30 years.  This idea takes advantage of (1) the popularity of the game, (2) ease of play and (3) amount of fun it adds to a session.  The concept is simple.  Make up any saying and post that saying on the wall with one letter per envelope.  Each single winner calls out a letter and all letters that match are revealed, The winner then gets a chance to solve the puzzle. Should they not solve the puzzle, the game continues with the next winner picking a letter.  The main difference from the TV version is that each winner only picks one letter prior to their guess, even if that letter was revealed in the puzzle.  

Note: You should also post all letters guessed.  

For Example:  Saying is “Yell Bingo – Win Money” (17 characters –11 are unique).  We used that saying because it is something said in the hall quite frequently.  Develop something similar for your hall.   

Options for prizes.

1. Start with $100 and add $10 for every letter revealed. ( Max prize = $100 + $170 = $270)

2. Start with $100 and add $10 for every correct letter guessed, (Max prize = $100 + $110 = $210)

3. Start with $100 and add $10 for every guess – total prize unknown.

4. Have a fixed prize of $100 or play for a merchandise prize.  Clyde Bock • 1/8/14

I am an entertainer (doktorstrange.com) and entertainment designer, specifically involving the world of Bingo. I was the first to bring Cosmic Bingo to Canada (cosmicbingo.ca), developed numerous Bingo Game shows, and created the first game to ever turn Bingo into a game of strategy called AMAZING BINGO (thebingogame.com). This game also offers an exciting long term promotion for Bingo Halls. I have spoken at Bingo conferences with his program "Your Bingo is boring and it doesn't have to be" and I am now adapting it to this series of articles outlining the importance of entertaining your players and the value that will have to your facility. The first in the series is HERE.  Find more information about the Amazing Bingo game on the ‘New Products’ page.

And learn a little more about me, Stephen Kaplan, HERE.

604.32.GAMES (42637)


"Build it and they will come, entertain them and they will come back!" ~ SRK 1/13/14

Be Prepared to Add Something Extra to Your Session

When you want to add some fun to your session and reward the players whenever attendance exceeds expectations, you should plan ahead to achieve best results.  The more prepared you are the better chance for success.  I encourage you to avoid the standard practice of simply adding a good-neighbor prize paid to the players sitting on the right or left of the winner.  While it works, you may not be getting full benefit from the investment of your time and money.  

Let’s explore an alternative.  The next time attendance reaches 200, you plan to add $100 to the prize pool. Pre-purchase 200 small daubers at .50 cents each for a total of $100.  At some time during the session (the earlier the better) announce that the next time someone bingos on N 43, everybody in the hall will get a “FREE Lucky Dauber.”  If it does not happen on the current session, carry it forward until it is won.  The advantages are obvious.  One promotion may cover multiple sessions, the excitement peaks for everyone in the hall every time N43 appears and you just had another 200 winners in the hall. All it took is a bit of pre-planning to buy the daubers, set the criteria and develop a plan of how to give them away.  

Note:  The amount of the prize or the criteria is not important but the concept is.  For additional ideas and more detailed information, check under “Daily Promotions” in the BRG Article section.  Clyde Bock • 1/16/14

As a bingo professional we are, or should, always look for sources of information to advance our game.  Having found the Bingo Resource

Guide and Promoting Bingo Websites you well know the power of finding a reliable source of good information from fellow professionals.  There are many sources of white paper for the gaming industry some tailor made for bingo and others for the gaming industry in general.  The trick is to find the resources that will tend to help our games.  Read More HERE.  Steven Waller • 2/10/14

New twist to “Let’s Make a Deal”

The standard “Let’s Make a Deal” involves offering cash for various items a caller solicits from the players.  For example: A caller would offer of $10 if a selected player has a hair brush or offer $10 for the first person to hold up their hand that had a pink cigarette lighter.  Ric Newgard, the bingo manager for Seattle Jr. Hockey Bingo in Mt. Lake Terrace WA, came up with a different approach.  He uses a door prize drawing to select the next player for “Let’s Make a Deal.”  Ric asks the player to pick a number between 1 and 20.  Each number equates to a specific item.  For example: If the selected player picks number 17, Ric will ask if that player has a bobby pin they would sell for $10.  He does not announce what item number the player picked. He just moves on to the next drawing winner. I like how clean this makes the game and takes all potential fairness problems out of the procedure. Clyde Bock • 6/5/14

Getting All Players involved in a Team Game

Jeff Barlow, bingo manager at Spokane Youth Sports in Spokane WA, came up with a simple and easy way to divide all his players into teams which then compete for additional prizes.  He divided the players into 10 teams by using the last digit of each players receipt number to denote which team they were assigned to.  A team scoreboard was placed on the wall and points awarded for every bingo won by a player on their team.  But instead of the team with the most points being declared the winner, the team with the fewest points received the top prize.  

Editor’s note: What I really like about this version of “Bingo O-lympics” is the ease of assigning players to teams.  Jeff’s choice of which team won was based on the logic that the team with the most points already had a lot of winners so why not reward those who had won the least.  Clyde Bock • 6/13/14

If you would like to make a contribution to this page, go to the contact page and get in touch with any of the bingo professionals you find there. They will be happy to chat with you and help create an entry to share on this page.  All entries are fully attributed and there is absolutely no charge for these entries.  This information is provided as a service to our readers only and is not intended as an endorsement by BRG or Promoting Bingo. We do encourage managers to get involved and assist in strengthening the game of bingo for future generations.

Scrambled Eggs

Occasionally a promotion comes along that is a bit off-beat yet very successful.  “Scrambled Eggs” is one such promotion.  The premise is as follows:  20 eggs are put into a basket.  As far as the players know – 15 eggs are hollow with an amount between $25 and $50 written on a slip of paper stuffed inside – 5 are raw eggs worth $50.  The selected player can choose but not touch the egg. They now have two choices of how to open the egg.   If they elect to “break the egg” on their head, they win double the amount on the piece of paper or $100 if it is a raw egg.   If they elect to have the egg broken on the manager’s head, they win only the amount on the paper.  At the start of the session a manager brings the eggs out and as they explain the rules, one of the raw eggs is “accidently” dropped on the floor. In reality, that was the only raw egg in the basket but the players are unaware of that fact.

It was surprising how few players elected to win double by busting the egg on their own head.  Most chose the manager’s head.  One of the clues to a successful promotion is how well the idea of raw eggs being mixed in is sold to the players.  Bringing out towels and cleaning supplies really helped sell the potential of raw eggs being in the mix.  This promotion was created and “performed” by Matthew Butkowski, a manager with Imperial Bingo Connection in Renton WA.  Clyde Bock • 7/2/14

Inexpensive Upgrade to Halls

At a recent visit to Seattle Jr. Hockey Bingo in Mt. Lake Terrace in Washington, I noticed they had mounted a monitor to the front of their callers stand.  Manager Ric Newgard said it was very inexpensive to do and generated a lot of positive comments.  That monitor would certainly be the focus of attention.  They used it as an additional monitor to supplement all the others in the hall.

 Another idea is to use that monitor as a source of promotional information.  That prime display area could be easily set up to display power point presentations dedicated to promoting events in the hall.  Each screen could be changed by the push of a button or cycle through a group of slides.  The possibilities are endless and include posting of jackpots available for the game now being sold on the floor.  I believe this may be one of the best untapped promotional ideas we can do to increase sales and promote upcoming events.  This idea may require some effort but the results could be well worth the investment.  I intend to test this it in my hall and I will keep you informed of the results.  I am sure this idea is not unique and would love to hear from someone already using this.  

 Clyde Bock • 7/17/14

Strange Yet Successful

A few years ago, Kevin Mallahan of Snohomish Bingo ran a very successful promotion called, “Pick Your Nose.”  I was very skeptical and seriously doubt I would have used that name even if I had thought of it.  

Kevin purchased a variety of animal noses from a novelty supplier and filled up a basket placed by the tills.  These are the type that cover the nose and are secured by an elastic band that goes behind the head.  As the players bought-in, they “Picked Their Nose” from the basket.  For additional excitement a bonus was paid if the winner made the noise of their selected animal instead of yelling bingo.  At the beginning of the session they had a practice “snort” that set positive tone for the evening.  His players had a great time and requested an encore at a future event.  

The moral of the story is this:  How many good promotions do we pass up because we are too timid to expand our imagination beyond our comfort zone?

This promotion was very successful and, just as important, the players had a great time.  I would love to hear from games that ran this promotion or have a similar story. Clyde Bock - Imperial Bingo Connection • 7/30/14

Create Reasons for Players to Come to Hall Early

I encourage players to come early.  The reason is sound – It is beneficial to get them to commit to playing at my hall and the earlier the better (zero chance they will go elsewhere). I want them to decide on my hall quickly and will do everything I can to aid them in making that decision.   The question becomes how to accomplish that goal and at what cost?

I have come across at least three options.  Ferndale Band Boosters in Washington put a large round table (seats 12) just inside their door.  On that table they put a dozen doughnuts, pot of coffee and a donation box.  They encouraged players to come early and socialize with their friends.  They averaged 10 players and always took in enough donations to pay for all supplies.

On occasion, I will pass out a 1-on card to all players in the hall and play a game for a pack of daubers – value $5.  I try to run this at 25% of my sessions.  Just enough to keep them wondering if today is the day.  If we have a larger number of players than normal, I might increase the prize to a free buy-in ($10) or free machine ($20).   

One of the halls in Oregon would pass out drawing tickets up to a certain time, usually 45 minutes before start time.  The drawing was for free a specials game pack ($7) for the upcoming session.  If the player won on that pack they won a $50 bonus.

How you get players to come early is up to you.  I believe it is worthwhile and is just another part of giving value to players in exchange for loyalty and increased attendance.  Clyde Bock - Imperial Bingo Connection • 8/15/14

Fun Good Neighbor Game Adds 20 Winners (1 in 10) for $20 Cost

Start by purchasing a couple dozen specialty daubers from your supplier. I define a specialty dauber as any dauber not sold in the hall.  Every time you run this good-neighbor game the winning ratio of 1 in 10 assures the 24 daubers will cover an attendance up to 240 players.  The concept is very simple.  On a specific game announce, “This is a player appreciation game.” At the end of the game and prior to clearing the board, ask the players look at their receipts.  If the last digit on their receipt matches the last digit of the winning number, they are a winner (hence the 1in 10 ratio).  Have them hold up their hand and the floor worker (s) will quickly pass out the daubers to the winners.  Example: My receipt number is 15678 and the bingo was on B 8 or G 48.   

Recommendations: #1 - Due to the cheap cost and ease of paying winners, you might want to consider this every session for a week.  You can bill it as Player Appreciation Week.  #2 - Do this every game for a session.  The cost is reasonable compared to the benefit.  I believe this to be superior to having a good neighbor left or right for $20.  #3 – Pick a row prior to the start of the session and run the game every time a bingo is called in that row.  

Another positive is that it does not matter how many winners of the bingo game there were; hence the restriction of  “single winners only” does not apply.

Clyde Bock - Imperial Bingo Connection • 7/22/14

Involve Your Players with Super “Good Neighbor Game”

Standard “Good Neighbor Games” are easy to do and will increase the number of winners in a session.  However; most are boring.  As managers, we are constantly seeking ways to add an element of fun and excitement into our games. What follows merges both criteria into one package – more winners plus fun and excitement.

Assume we have a budget of $100 for the session and the hall has a series of 1-on case paper on hand. Every winner, plus the player on their left and right, gets a “Play-Off “card to be used on a special game at the end of the session.  To keep the time under control, I use a simple line bingo for the “Play-Off” game.  Multiply your number of winners by 3 to estimate how many cards (and players) will be in play.  The simplest option is to pay the $100 prize to the winner.   

What I like about this approach is the infinite number of options available.  For example:  A line in 10 numbers or less pays double ($200), 20 numbers or less pays $100 with a $50 consolation for a line in excess of 20 numbers.  Keep in mind the number of cards in play is small so the $200 “double bonus” is paid less often than the $50 consolation.  The possibility of wining up to $200 is exciting and occasionally only $50 is paid.  

Additional options: A different series of cards can be given to the winners to distinguish them from the good neighbors. Play until you get a winner from both groups.  Use “starburst” cards and pay a bonus if they bingo on a star.  The options are limited only by your imagination and the type of paper you have in the hall.  The amount of money paid out can be easily adjusted to match the financial circumstances of each hall.

Concern: The extra time added to the session.  Offset this by using a simple game and utilizing a quick cadence when calling numbers.  

Clyde Bock - Imperial Bingo Connection • 10/28/14

Easy Way to Reduce Prizes

Most managers are very pro-active in keeping their games profitable.  They know it is easier to make changes by putting time and preparation into the process.  However; eventually, most will still need to reduce prizes and will find that difficult to accomplish without an adverse player reaction.  What follows is a solution that I have found to be the least disruptive.

Recapture the starting jackpot amount prior to increasing it.  Let me explain.  Assume your jackpot starts at $500 in 50 numbers and it goes up one number and $250 per week until won.  You are out $500 every time the jackpot is won.  If the jackpot is won 6 times a year that is $3000 paid in start-up money. Money saving change = Recapture the starting amount by waiting two weeks before increasing the jackpot.  The players are still playing for $500, but no increase until that $500 is paid back to the hall.  Then continue with the money progression.  I suggest you continue to add numbers during that time period.  

In the example above the hall has paid out $3000 less in prize money for the year.  If the jackpot goes back-to-back before you recover the $500, you are still no worse off than before.  The savings are just a bit less for the year.

I have used this method to reduce my prize pool with great success.  The players accept that the jackpot starts at zero, but with a guaranteed $500 minimum.  

Clyde Bock - Imperial Bingo Connection • 11/19/14

The “WHY”, WHEN”, “HOW”, and “WHAT” of Good Neighbor Games.

Almost all bingos run “Good Neighbor” games, especially when we have a good crowd.  To make sure you are getting the most from your effort, I encourage you to step back for a moment and examine some of the criteria that makes for effective “Good Neighbor” games.  What follows are some thoughts I use to evaluate every facet of the process.

WHY.  The most obvious reasons for their use is to reward players, increase the number of winners and add some fun to the hall.  Some of the less obvious reasons are to increase future attendance, have players remember your hall and in some cases to reduce your inventory of old or excess items from the deli or gift shop.  It is highly unlikely that a single “Good Neighbor” event will fill more than two of the above objectives.  I encourage you to pick out the main objective you are trying to accomplish and concentrate on that objective when setting up your event.  Too often an event is weakened by trying to accomplish too many objectives and winds up accomplishing very little.

WHEN. Timing is very critical to a successful event.  I am not in favor of running events on a consistent basis.  When used in that manner, I feel the events become expected and consequently you run the risk of player dissatisfaction when they do not receive something they anticipate. Some examples of triggers for impromptu events are large crowds, staff birthdays, a big win by local team or even to help cover up for a mistake by staff. Be creative to make it exciting yet conservative enough to keep it affordable.  For these unadvertised events you need to have multiple items on–the-shelf that you can pull out when needed.  

Planned “Good Neighbor” sessions also have a place in your repertoire of events designed to achieve player loyalty and increase attendance.  Holidays are a prime example.  Giving away baskets at Easter can be very successful as are turkeys at Thanksgiving and flags on Veterans Day.   Another example of an advertised event is when the value of the item given away is more than just a couple bucks. If you have 10 DVD players to give away, that in itself becomes a promotion for that session.  

HOW.  Before you decide how to give away the item, let’s examine some of the criteria used to help make that decision.  The manner of distribution needs to be simple and fun, yet prolong the excitement of a possible win.  The standard left and right of the winner is easy but sometimes is not much fun and does not prolong the excitement of winning.  Be creative and I am sure you can come up with fun and exciting ways to determine good-neighbor winners.  For example: as an option you can pass out duplicate drawing tickets.  Once a winner is declared, their ticket number is called and matched up with someone else in the hall.  Another option: Everyone at the winning table is given 1-on cards.  At the end of the session, run a game using only those cards to win a larger prize.  An alternative is to have all the good-neighbor cards earned during the week be brought in and played at the last session of the week.

WHAT.  Almost anything can be used as a “Good Neighbor” prize.  Some have your name on them or are items sold at the gift shop.  Others can be obtained from local vendors at no charge to your game.  You can use free bingo at your hall as a prize.  Some items are seasonal and some are more generic.  The important concept is to have several groups accumulated and ready to use at a moment’s notice.  

For more detailed ideas, check out the article, “Fun Good Neighbor Games”, in the BRG articles section.

Clyde Bock - Imperial Bingo Connection • 1/12/15

Creating ‘Groups’ in Facebook to Help Get Your Hall Noticed.

All bingo operators encounter the same difficulties all business owners do and that is simply to make folks aware they exist.  Of course if you regularly spend more money getting folks in to play bingo than the money earned from them playing,  then you have a short term problem.  In the long run you go broke so don’t worry long term.

The key is not only letting people know you are around but give them a reason to consider bingo as an option.   Here in N.C. we have to find reasons for folks to consider attending bingo rather than spending time at college, pro, High school events or just enjoying being outside since we have so many days of nice weather.   To simply advertise in periodicals, radio, TV is too “scatter shot” for us and too costly.  We simply can’t afford to spend a lot of money on marketing using traditional methods.

One option we have found to have practical use, yet is not very expensive, is to find groups of people looking for things to do as a group.   So far our best tool has been to identify those groups and then create Facebook groups to serve that need.    Examples are “what to do with kids during trackout”, or “fun things to do after work”, or “family fun activities for the weekends”.    We create groups on FB that have a compelling interest for solving problems folks have and try to serve that need.   The benefit is you can “soft sell” bingo as a solution.   We do not make the FB sites anything exclusively for bingo but we do post regularly about any upcoming bingo events.   Other members of a group such as “fun things to do after work” will also post on fun things they have found to do and the true name and intent of the group is met by member posts.

The time to monitor and add members is minimal and the members who join the group already have a predilection toward wanting to be your customer.  The cost is basically an hour or so to set up,  10 minutes per day to monitor and add a post but no outlay of cash for marketing.

Be sure, if you choose to set up interest groups, that you create groups, not pages, on Facebook.  By going the group route, you have the ability to communicate to all members at once, whereas as a “page”, that is not possible.

Bob Johnson - NC Beach Bingo • 2/27/15

Enticing Players to Come Early

This great idea comes from Nova Scotia courtesy of Kevin Mason and the Lake Echo Lions Club. There are many reasons we want players to come as early as possible to our halls.  First, we know they are at our hall and not somewhere else.  Second, we have the opportunity to get a jump on selling which reduces wait time.  Third, it gives us additional time to interact with our most loyal customers.

Kevin’s solution was so successful in the past that they are planning on bring it out of retirement.  Their brilliant idea is simple, yet effective.  They created a 75 number board with hooks above each number.  The first 75 people got a card to write their name on and hang it on one of the empty hooks.  As they played the regular bingo games, names were removed corresponding to the numbers being called.  The names of the last B,I,N,G and O on the board are entered into a drawing to be held at a later date.

I envision many versions of this great promotion.  You could pay a good neighbor bonus to the name associated to the winning number.  Maybe a large bonus if they were the actual winner as well.  

To make it a great good neighbor concept, instead of just the first 75 players, all players get a card and can put their name on whatever hook they wanted.  There could be 4 names on “O” 75 and none on “N” 43 but you may not care.  Good neighbor prizes tend to be small and inexpensive.  What a great way to engage the players.  They have a chance to put their name on a board and maybe win extra prizes.  Great ideas always spark my imagination and this concept certainly does that and I am pleased to pass it on.  Thanks Kevin.

Clyde Bock - Imperial Bingo Connection • 3/30/15

Players Need to Know the Number of Winners

Players like to play where there are a lot of winners, but in most halls players do not have an accurate idea of how many bingo winners there are in a session. If this is true, we are missing a key advertising point.  

It is to your advantage for the players to realize how many winners there are in a session.  It is very impressive when a crowd of 100 realizes there are over fifty winners. Equally important is making sure players remember the number of winners.

One quick and easy way to accomplish both goals is to hold a drawing based on the number of winners.  

What follows is one way to get that information to the players.  With their buy-in, each player is given a drawing ticket and instructed to fill in their name and include a guess as to how many winners that session will have.  At the end of the session, staff goes to the drawing barrel and keeps selecting a ticket until a correct winner is found, each time announcing the incorrect answer.  If that is too time consuming, quickly sort the entries into numerical order based on the attendance guess.  All who had the correct guess win a prize.  I am sure there are many ways to determine a winner and accomplish what was intended – players will be excited by the true number of winners.  

Clyde Bock - Imperial Bingo Connection • 5/11/15

Update: Enticing Players to Come Early

On March 30, I posted an article in shop talk about a 75 number board used to entice players to come early to the hall.  Since that time I have had one built and am extremely excited about all the different ways the board can be used.  Our choice for a board name is “Pick It and Win It”.  It is compact, measuring only 24” by 42”, light yet very sturdy.  At this time we are using it as a way to distribute good neighbor prizes.  Each player gets a standard 2 1/4” “tag” with their buy-in.  They put their name on the tag and hang it on the number of their choice.  On all regular games, the player (or players) on the winning number get the good neighbor prize.  If there is a single winner, we offer a $50 bonus if the good neighbor was also the actual winner of the game.

For a total of $550, Gary DeNoble of Promoting Bingo/Print Solution, will design and make the board. You may be able to get a board made locally but for a total of only $550, I am not sure it is worth the effort.  Gary even went on our web site to develop the color scheme. However you choose to get the board made, I encourage you to do so.  The uses for this board are unlimited.  We are in the midst of designing a new game to use the board for a month long promotion and I will post the idea when the details have been worked out.  

Clyde Bock - Imperial Bingo Connection • 7/14/15