One of society’s biggest pastimes is bingo. Extremely popular, it gets very little media attention whether in church basements, various charity events, at county fairs, or big commercial operations, even though vast numbers of people participate regularly across the continent, and indeed in countries around the world.
COVID has put a stop to that though as people were not allowed to gather in groups. However, with a relaxation of restrictions people have found a way to begin using their bingo daubers/dabbers/markers are being put to use again.
Rather than sit down at inside events, currently prohibited under emergency health rules, they’ve taken an idea from drive-in movie operations, and begun holding events in parking lots. where people can sit in their personal cars, distanced from others.
In some cases the bingo caller inside announces the numbers over a localised low-power FM radio signal tuned in on car radios.
Winners are told to honk the horn and flash car lights and attendants come to check the cards.
In all cases participants are happy to be getting their bingo ‘fix’. although as one person told CBC, it’s not quite the same feeling or atmosphere or camaraderie, “ “You’re by yourself in a car, you got nobody yakking, making lots of noise, you know what I mean?”
In some provinces however, such as Saskatchewan and Manitoba, a relaxation of the health restrictions have allowed bingo halls to reopen, so the enjoyment and excited atmosphere of being with others can return, albeit not in nearly the same proximity or number of participants as before due to some restrictions remaining.
The idea of parking lot bingo is not entirely new however, It’s been going on in Sweden for example for many years as people adapted to big bingo halls closing down and seeking a cheaper alternative than maintaining expensive buildings.
For those who think its a soft gambling game for the elderly, a Decima research effort in 2008 found the majority of Bingo players were between age 26 to 65 with the largest group between age 36 to 45.
- CBC: J Barker: Jul 12/20: Honk for bingo: Bingo lovers get their fix from their cars in Windsor
- CTV: N Vandermeer: Jul 3/20: Beep-O! Drive-in bingo helps Cornwall non-profits get back on their feet
- Gamingpost.ca: Bingo news
- The Guardian (UK): D Crouch: May 20/15: Young Swedes hooked on playing numbers game in their cars
- Decima Research: 2008 Demographics of Bingo players Canada