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Bingo: The Quiet Giant Ready to Make Noise

12 July 2000

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota--(Press Release)--July 12, 2000-- It's a nine-billon dollar a year industry in North America alone, with many more billions wagered globally. ``It'' is Bingo, the gaming industry's most wholesome, and most globally popular cousin, on the brink of a worldwide explosion, from North America to Europe, from South Africa to The Philippines.

This is one explosion that won't hurt anyone, thanks to the major expansion of philanthropic benefits, and to technology. This year alone, over 45 billion individual Bingo Cards and papers will be played in the United States, with billions more worldwide, and that's only part of the story.

In addition to the new technological advances enabling anyone of legal age to play more games with more ease, Bingo's impact on society, worldwide, has been, and continues to be, enormous.

Bingo has been responsible for raising funds for major and minor charities to the point their coffers can now make a genuine and significant impact on research and numerous successes in the fields of medicine, business, community services and the arts.

Carol Borgman, Director of Development and Communications for the Seattle area's Music Works Northwest, an arts organization whose mission it is to provide music to the community through education, has high praise for Bingo and its impact on Music Works Northwest.

``Since the 1970's, Bingo has funded our music education programs for youth. It's allowed Music Works Northwest to grow, expanding programming to include early childhood and adult music education, and now we're serving the entire community with music education courses,'' Ms. Borgman stated.

In addition, Ms. Borgman lauded the fact that ``the funds from Bingo have actually allowed us to build our current community music school, a 20,000 square foot music facility in Bellevue, Washington, and we actually have our own Bingo Hall!''

Ms. Borgman's story is similar to those of Fraternal Orders of Police in Florida, sports organizations in Texas, youth-oriented shelters and playground facilities in New York City, and community shelters, hospitals, hospices, ad infinitum, nationwide and continent-wide. U.S. and Canadian Bingo Halls have established themselves as centers of social activity and interaction, as well as sources of revenue for philanthropy.

Now, with technological advancements which allow Bingo players to play more games faster and easier, the charities feel their futures look even brighter. ``No one can imagine how loyal our players are, or how eager they are, to not only win money for themselves, but to also know they're helping charities who really need the help,'' stated Dan Edwards, manager of Burbank, Calif.'s Western Pacific Bingo.

``Bingo is a different game now, with electronic hand-held units like Power Bingo King's Lil' Champ, Power Touch screens linked to multi-site linked Bingo games, and Power Flash handsets allowing players to play up to 200 cards per game simultaneously. It's definitely not just your grandmother's game anymore!'' Edwards said.

Former Minnesota Attorney General Hubert H. ``Skip'' Humphrey III, echoed Edwards' comments. ``In my opinion, this story needs to be told. The fact that something as taken-for-granted and simple as Bingo is having such a major impact on societal advancement is worthy of the public's attention, and especially those who may 'sniff' at the word.

"Bingo may have had its roots in the carnivals, but its emergence as a wholesome and first-class catalyst for doing good, in very upscale settings in many cases, is a global positive.''

Joseph M. Valandra, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Minneapolis-based BK Entertainment, the world's largest manufacturer and supplier of Bingo equipment and products, also said he couldn't agree more with Mr. Edwards' comments.

``I honestly feel Bingo will emerge, and already is emerging, as the 'coolest' entertainment, social and most popular philanthropic activity on the planet in the 21st century. No one can dispute the validity of its merits, or its proven longevity and popularity.

"And our electronic advances make it even 'cooler,' for both players and the charities that will benefit. This is a definite win-win for everyone, not only in North America and Europe, but in rapidly emerging markets such as South Africa and The Philippines.

"Recently approved for licensing in South Africa for the first time, Bingo will be introduced in new Bingo Halls now under construction between now and the end of the year in six jurisdictional locations in and around Johannesburg.

"Those new halls will serve the multiple purposes of creating new, more socially comfortable entertainment environments, raising funds for much-needed social and educational programs there, and generally advancing community self-esteem and progress,'' Valandra said.

Mr. Valandra also addressed the popularity and impact of Bingo in The Philippines, where ``new Halls have mushroomed ever since Bingo's introduction there six years ago.

"The Philippine Bingo Halls have become community centers, entertainment centers and, of course, sources of revenue for the communities and their various philanthropy-oriented needs.

"This is precisely the vision for Bingo in the 21st century globally, as a central and valuable entity for community growth and common good, and now accelerated with the emergence and further development of linked electronic Bingo sites worldwide.''

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