Posted by Wizard
Jul 31 2016

Why a Casino Should Give it a Test Run

Why a Casino Should Give it a Test Run There are a good many similarities between gambling in Macau and gambling in Commercial Casinos in the United States, particularly those located in Las Vegas, Nevada, but the wide availability of bingo is definitely not one of those similarities. Some people may find this unusual given that bingo has enjoyed immense popularity in the United States, and in fact, is one of the few games that can be said to be available (usually legalized for charitable purposes) in most states, even those that otherwise have no expressly legalized and regulated commercial gambling. Even at a time when Nevada and New Jersey were the only two states whatsoever with any legal commercial casinos, bingo was a game that could be enjoyed all over the country.

Undoubtedly, there are a few exceptions, such as Hawaii and Utah, two states that have no legalized form of gambling whatsoever. In most other states, however, bingo remains a game enjoyed by many. What some people may find interesting about bingo, and this is especially true if anyone has researched the performance of bingo halls in the State of Texas, is that there are a good many entities that actually succeed in losing money on their overall bingo operations, and Las Vegas, taken as a whole, may not be an exception.

Las Vegas Bingo Revenues and Availability

For one thing, bingo is a relatively low house edge games compared to similar games that have similar costs per play. Our sister site, reports:

That the win percentage between November of 2011 and October of 2012 in Las Vegas was a paltry 3.24% with a hold, according to a bingo manager that Michael Shackleford spoke to, of approximately 11%. While these edges and holds may be somewhat player-favorable compared to other games, and while bingo can occasionally be played at an advantage by the savvy player, the volume still has to be there in order for the casinos to profit. In Las Vegas, that sort of volume is often not the case. We can go all the way back to 2005 and look at a UNLV report on Bingo:

The report indicates that the Las Vegas casinos, in sum, only had a gross gaming win of 8.5 million dollars across forty-five properties. Not only do these, ‘Gross Wins,’ not account for expenses associated with offering the game, as UNLV reported, but the North Las Vegas market actually had payouts that exceeded the house take. In other words, they lost money on the game straight up!

As the WizardofOdds site indicates, some casinos may allow players to use their points to pay for cards, so for players who only do that and rarely, if ever, purchase cards for cash, then those players winning would obviously cut into the gross win for the casino in question as well as the casinos taken as a whole. Furthermore, there have historically been a number of casinos that offer free bingo cards as a promotional tool, or alternatively, have free bingo sessions. In addition to the free snacks and beverages that the casinos offer, some casinos offer entirely free bingo sessions, or at least have in the past. In fact, I recall that Cannery Casino in North Las Vegas was offering a free bingo session once a week during my April 2014 visit to Las Vegas, and perhaps that is still the case.

While the monetary results certainly do not bear out each individual Las Vegas casino continuing to offer bingo, that the game will be offered remains something of an expectation amongst many players. For one thing, the casino may make money off of the bingo players (or those who are with them) in other ways. Many spouses might have an interest in bingo and will choose to stay at a casino (at which the other spouse may be playing something else) based largely upon the availability and hours of the bingo game being offered. For these people, a casino that lacks bingo is fundamentally no different (in terms of interest level) than a casino lacking slot machines (such as California’s, ‘Card rooms,’) would be to someone who exclusively plays the slots.

In a way, that aspect is somewhat akin to the casinos that originally offered slots, (before the popularity of them exploded) in order to give the women accompanying their spouses or significant others something to do while the gentleman was playing table games. If the availability of bingo could be a deciding factor in whether or not someone who also plays slots would like to visit your casino, then there is a pretty strong possibility the casino will make money off of that person, overall, given that they offer bingo.

It is possible that the casinos in Macau have simply determined that bingo is not a game that will produce enough profits to justify its implementation and this assertion may well be based off of the way that the bingo halls in Las Vegas have performed.

Is There a Tradition of Bingo in Macau?

Bingo is also a game that is steeped in tradition in both the United States as well as a few countries in Western Europe, though they do play different versions of the game. In the United States, bingo started out as a game called, ‘Beano,’ which was called such because players would often use beans as markers, whereas now a dauber is used, and the fundamental rules were otherwise largely the same.

Of course, from those simple rules stemmed a number of variations to the game. The first variation being that of patterns in order to achieve, ‘Bingo!’ When bingo first started out, the goal was often to simply complete a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line and there would occasionally be a, ‘Cover-All,’ game that had a larger jackpot. This eventually changed and, while such simple versions of the game can still be found online, in bingo halls as well as in Las Vegas casinos, there are many games that incorporate more creative patterns for the players to try to hit. This is especially true online given that there are some games with patterns that actually move around the card from spot to spot and a player could go from having a losing card one minute to having a winning pattern the next just by way of the pattern changing.

As has been mentioned before, bingo is still somewhat popular in the United States and can be enjoyed at many establishments specifically designed to be bingo halls, fire halls, schools, churches and street fairs/carnivals to this very day. While the simplicity with which the game can be played is largely intact, there have been other changes made to bingo in the United States, particularly Las Vegas.

An interesting aspect of all of the games available in a casino is that they actually compete with each other, though the bottom lines of each one affect the casino as a whole. Table games managers should want people playing at the tables rather than the slots and should instruct their dealers to behave in a manner that will effectuate that. The slot department wants those seated at the slot machines to stay there and the bingo manager would be happy if any of the players came his way. As a result, concepts such as the, ‘Cash Ball,’ as well as a few other side bets have been introduced over the years in Las Vegas to increase player interest as well as, hopefully, the hold for the bingo room.

Bingo is also steeped in tradition in the United Kingdom, though unlike the United States, the default bingo game is one of ninety balls rather than seventy-five. However, the game is losing popularity even in the UK as the number of bingo halls has fallen by roughly 200 just within the last decade. Some of this decline can be attributed to the widespread availability of online bingo, but certainly not all of it. If the United States, and even more specifically, Las Vegas, are any indication, then bingo is simply falling out of favor with the public.

The Chinese have long enjoyed numbers-based games, in fact, it is widely speculated that the popular gambling game keno originated in China, in some form, several centuries ago. However, despite the popularity of number and lottery-style games in China, bingo has virtually no tradition in the country whatsoever, nor does it have much of any tradition in other predominantly Asian countries. It is not simply a matter of bingo being an unpopular game, bingo just never had the opportunity to become popular to begin with as it simply did not spread to that side of the world in any meaningful way.

Online bingo is now available on a number of sites that can be accessed in a number of Asian countries, but for many of those individuals that decide to try the game, they would be doing it for the first time. As we can see from this Wikipedia page under, ‘Statistics,’ many of the short-term visitors to Macau come from countries that have not yet been exposed to Bingo to any meaningful degree:

The Chinese, specifically, represent a significant majority of all of Macau’s annual visitors while the top six countries (the seventh is the United States) are predominantly Asian. In other words, the vast majority of these visitors all come from countries in which bingo is not popular due to having not meaningfully been introduced.

An Argument for Introduction?

While there would be some growing pains (and short-term losses) associated with the introduction of Bingo into the casinos of Macau, one might argue that this unfamiliarity with the game might drive some interest and the first of the Macau casinos to introduce bingo could enjoy some tidy profits. Once again, it is not that bingo is a hated game in the Asian countries, it is just a game that does not enjoy a widespread awareness.

By far, Baccarat is the most popular game in the Macau casinos with Blackjack and Sic Bo perhaps roughly tying for second. However, it might be that not all visitors to Macau enjoy these games and some of them, much as the spouses accompanying their husbands in the Vegas of old, might enjoy a concept such as a bingo hall and a relatively simple and stress free game.

A bingo hall, if introduced in Macau, would certainly have to gain some traction amongst Asian gamblers relatively quickly in order to be viable, though, because it is extremely doubtful that such a bingo hall would be self-sustaining just based on visitors from the Western Hemisphere who would be attracted to the game.

Different Variations

Another question one might ask: What variation of Bingo should be offered?

There are a number of different Bingo variations according to our sister site, which reports:

That seventy-five ball bingo is played in the United States using a 5X5 grid spelling, ‘B-I-N-G-O,’ at the top and the goal is to achieve a vertical, horizontal or diagonal line, unless the game is one in which the goal is to cover all of the numbers, or some other kind of special pattern is used to adjudicate who wins.

Ninety ball bingo is the most common version in the United Kingdom, as well as elsewhere in Europe, and it is played on a 3X9 grid with five numbers in each row and the remaining squares left blank. In this game, numbers are drawn and players may achieve winnings by marking all of their numbers on either one line, two lines, or a, ‘Full House,’ which simply means that a player has hit all of their numbers on the, ‘Ticket,’ whereas the United States refers to it as a, ‘Card.’

Eighty ball bingo is somewhat less common and the game is played on a 4X4 grid upon which the first column represents 1-20, whereas the second column represents numbers 21-40, and so on. There are many different ways that a game can be won which include letters, lines, shapes and coveralls.

Thirty ball bingo is a game completed much faster than other bingo games as it simply consists of nine different numbers placed on a 3X3 grid. Generally speaking, the only way to win is by way of a player being the first to cover all of his or her numbers.

Fifty ball bingo is an online variation by which there is a card consisting of two rows and five columns, and the way to win is by being the player who achieves either a single line or a, ‘Full House.’

Many of these games are not entirely dissimilar to keno and could actually be designed entirely to be played by a single player who is paid based on nothing more than how many numbers the player gets compared to how many numbers are drawn, which, of course, would then assume that a fixed number of draws are made for an individual game. In fact, were that the case, then bingo would be exactly like keno.

One of the aspects of bingo that players in the United States seem to enjoy is the fact that, while random, it is a somewhat competitive game in the sense that it is the goal of a player to complete their card before, or at least at the same time as, the other players. It is difficult to say whether or not a game of this nature would appeal to Asian players, or whether they would prefer a game more similar in design to keno, or perhaps some combination of the two by which players play against other players, but there are also smaller prizes for players who (while they may not cover an entire card) do succeed in achieving a line or pattern. Of course, that style of game would be similar to some of the side bets that have been available in American bingo games already.


It is undoubtedly true that the game of bingo, at least played live, stemmed from humble beginnings in the Western Hemisphere (in any of its forms) and seems to have peaked several decades ago leading into what seems to be a steady decline. While that may be the case, there can be no question that the game rapidly became popular after arriving on the scene. The majority of visitors to Macau casinos, who are predominantly Asian, have not been exposed to bingo in any meaningful way, so it would be a completely new game to them. Therefore, a casino in Macau might do well to try to open up a bingo hall and see if it takes off as it did in the West so many years ago.


No comments for this article.

Please login or register in order to leave a comment