Bingo is a very popular game, and it’s one that is easy to learn and play. This makes the game an excellent way to raise funds for a charity or host a fun and entertaining night. If you have thought about running a bingo game, then there are a few things you need to know before starting.
The first thing you need to decide is whether you are trying to raise money for a group or organization or just playing for fun. Playing for fun is fine, but you don’t need as strict of a guideline. If you do want to raise money, then use these helpful strategies to run a fun and successful event.
Step 1: Licensing Regulations
The absolute first step is researching the licensing regulations in your state and county. Bingo is gambling after all, and some places have strict rules on this. If you are doing this for a non-profit organization, then you might not need a license, but most other groups will require a permit.
Along with the license, you will need to follow the rules and regulations of the state. You might need to file additional paperwork, maintain the prize jackpots, and any other laws. You can contact the state’s lottery division to find out about licensing and any other regulations you might need for your bingo game. If you don’t follow these steps you could face some hefty fines, so don’t skip this!
Step 2: Research Possible Attendance Size
After you get all licensing figured out, you should do your best to find out how many people to expect. While it might be impossible to get an exact number, you can get a rough estimate. If other groups in your area have hosted a similar bingo event, you can look at their numbers to get an idea of the number of people.
You can also choose to market your even aggressively which might boost the number of attendees or rely on word of mouth. If your group has regular members, take them into account as well, especially if you know they loyally attend most events your organization hosts.
It’s important to have a general idea of the number of people coming to the game so you can plan accordingly. You don’t want to run out of any supplies or choose games that won’t work with the number of people you have. You don’t need to be precise, but the better idea you have, the more successful and profitable your event will be.
Step 3: Build Your Game Program
If you don’t have much experience with bingo games, they might look a little different than your elementary school bingo games. There are numerous games, raffles, jackpots, and special games you can play throughout the evening. These games can make your event more lively and fun and can bring in more people and revenue throughout the night.
Early Bird Games
You can choose to play a few games before the regular game gets underway. These are faster games and aren’t a part of the regular bingo book. The prizes for these are usually smaller than the regular games. You don’t need to include early bird games, but it might be a good way to draw people into the big event.
Regular Bingo Games
These games are the main event and included in the regular bingo book. These games are usually played on 6 to 9 sheets at a time and contain 6 to 10 games. The prizes for these games are more significant, and it’s where the real fun of bingo starts.
Special Games and Jackpots
You can play special games or jackpots throughout the regular games. These games might be part of the regular bingo book, or you can choose to add them in. If you don’t have a lot of experience with bingo, you might consider removing special games and focusing the bulk of your attention on the main games. Those are what most people play bingo for, and you want to give it enough attention.
Raffles and Pulltabs
These aren’t necessarily bingo games, but they are an efficient way to increase your overall revenue, especially if you are doing this for fundraising purposes. You can sell raffle tickets for prizes different from the bingo prizes, such as gift cards to local businesses or tickets to another event you host.
Pull tabs are like scratch-off lottery tickets where you remove squares to reveal prizes underneath. Again, you don’t have to include either of these things in your bingo game. If you think it will take too much time and effort away from the main event, don’t worry about them.
Step 4: Determining Prizes and Building Revenue
Another big part of bingo are the prizes. You obviously need something to give to the winners of each game, but if you are doing this for a fundraiser, you also want to make some money. If you are a non-profit group, you can ask local businesses to donate prizes towards your event. That way you can keep all the money from your book sales and still have something to give away.
If you decide to do cash prizes, you need to determine how much of the book sales you will keep for revenue and what will go towards prizes. It might take a little math to figure out the perfect number for your group size and the purposes of your games. A good rule of thumb is to have 75% of the bingo revenue go back towards the prizes.
75% might sound like a lot to give back to the prizes especially if you are trying to raise money. You can include other games and events at your bingo game that will bring in additional revenue such as raffles and pull tabs. You could also sell homemade concessions, drinks, and snacks. Some events might even sell bingo supplies such as dabbers and highlighters. You will have to purchase those supplies before you sell them again, so keep that in mind.
Step 5: Bingo Supplies
To run a bingo game correctly, you will need a few things. First, you need to have balls with all the numbers on the card and either a cage or other receptacle for them. You can also get a bingo machine that pulls the numbers for you and displays them digitally. These can be pricey though, and if you are only hosting an annual event, it might be better to borrow this equipment.
You will also need a caller to call out the numbers. Try to find someone with a little flair for entertaining because they are the ones that interact most with the players. You might also want a few floor clerks to walk around during the game to assist with anything and check potential winner’s boards.
If you delegate tasks and cover all your bases, your bingo game should run smoothly. Remember to delegate tasks and overall, have fun and enjoy your event!