The Castlegar Rotary Club is managing online bingo games that have become popular across the province.
Rotary Community Online Bingo was started by the Golden Rotary Club in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help keep people connected during the initial lockdown period. It quickly transitioned to an opportunity to support and engage with the community overall and was a source of fun and entertainment across the province with up to 8000 cards being played.
A number of other Rotary clubs in the Kootenays joined in and helped with the games. On May 21 of this year, the bingo game was transferred to Castlegar with the Castlegar Rotary Club members taking on the bulk of the work. Stacie Martini headed up the committee to train club members, and to set up the equipment at the Castlegar Curling Club.
The games are played on Friday evenings starting at 5 p.m. There are five regular games played each evening and usually one progressive game. Prizes can range from $1000 to $10,000 depending on the number of tickets sold. Several Castlegar residents have been prize winners. Bingo cards can be bought online the week before the game from Sunday morning until noon Friday.
There are a large number of tasks associated with running the bingo games. These include managing the online page, creating the weekly patterns, managing the Shopify store to sell the cards, setting up the cameras and sound system, reporting to the BC Gaming Commission, managing the revenues and payouts, and helping on game night (bingo callers, ball puller, verifiers, feed monitors/moderators). It’s a major time commitment for all of the club members.
Part of the proceeds from the sale of tickets goes to the participating Rotary Clubs, and these funds are used for community projects.
Uncle Gus from the Goat Radio Station has been one of the bingo callers and has added a fun element to the evenings. A typical player comment: “ I’m not sure I was all that focused on bingo tonight … I was laughing so hard from Gus and the guy in the shirt — they should have their own show!”