It may not have been Saturday night, but Mayor Marianne Matichuk was out to bingo Jan. 30 as she celebrated Boardwalk Gaming Centre Sudbury's 30th anniversary.
She presented founding partner Ray Loiselle with a certificate of commendation on behalf of the city.
Matichuk said the business — formerly known as Bingo One — has become a city institution.
“Everyone remember this? 'Grab your dabber, let's get at 'er,'” she said. “It's a great way to pass the evening, and for as long as I can remember, Boardwalk Gaming has been here.”
Despite the snowy weather outside, the bingo hall was packed for the anniversary celebration, as Boardwalk Gaming provided more than $30,000 in prizes in honour of the event.
Loiselle said he got the idea to start the business because his wife was such an ardent bingo player. At the time, though, bingo was played in small halls across the city.
He decided to build a large, purpose-built bingo hall on Notre Dame Avenue, adding a second location in Val Caron a few years later. Today the two locations employ about 100 people.
Loiselle said he's very proud his business is still thriving.
“I hope it lasts another 30 years,” he said.
Boardwalk Gaming Centre operates through a partnership with local charities. In exchange for providing volunteer labour, the bingo hall provides them with a 25-per-cent cut from gaming revenue and 10 per cent from non-gaming revenue.
Over the years, the Sudbury location alone has raised more than $40 million for 200 local charities. Ninety-eight local charities are currently associated with the business.
Richard Schwar, charity co-ordinator at Boardwalk Gaming Centre, said the arrangement provides a lot of advantages to charities. One is that they don't have to advance any money to put on a fundraiser.
Another is that they only need to provide two volunteers for two hours to receive a share of the bingo proceeds.
“So the dollars per volunteer hours is actually really high when you compare it to golf tournaments and everything else,” Schwar said.
But bingo isn't as popular with younger people these days, and is actually on the decline, said Denis Sivret, the business' general manager.
That's why Boardwalk Gaming, in partnership with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, has introduced various electronic gaming over the past eight years. This includes electronic bingo and electronic Nevada tickets.
“You've got to continue to reinvent yourself if you're going to be in business for 30 years,” Sivret said.
“You've got to continue to offer different products and different availabilities for customers. Same old, same old gets old after awhile.”
For more information about the business, visit www.boardwalkgaming.com.