Bingos being resurrected here

FORT FRANCES—Having just received word last week that they’ve received a lottery licence, the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau is now hosting bingos, with the first one taking place there Tuesday night.
Bev Kotnik, past president of the Fort Frances Bingo Association and a director on the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau board, said Tuesday afternoon that revenues from this particular bingo night will go to the Volunteer Bureau, which gets most of its funds from this type of fundraising,
But she’s hoping this also will kick-start the return of bingo for other local non-profit organizations.
“With the closure of the Fort Frances Bingo Hall, it left 23 charities scrambling for fundraising,” Kotnik noted. “It’s really caused a lot of concern for a lot of the groups.
“So, we decided to take a giant step backwards and get back to the smaller church basement-type bingos, at this point, and hopefully, we’ll grow to much more than that,” she added.
“The last three months in operation at the bingo hall, charities were actually taking losses. It was a sad, sad thing, but it was true.
“So, we’re hoping to get the charities back up. They all have much-needed causes,” stressed Kotnik. “Some community support for charity bingos would be wonderful.”
“We’re looking at getting other charities to come on board here because we’re all struggling,” echoed Denise Audette, executive director of the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau.
“The Volunteer Bureau is trying to work with the other charities just to keep going.
“Obviously it’s on a much smaller level—it wouldn’t even be close to what we had going at the bingo hall,” Audette added. “But it’s something where we can make some money.
“We are a part of the Fort Frances Bingo Association, so we’re prepared to help out where we can,” she pledged.
Bingo will run every Tuesday starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Volunteer Bureau, which is located in the old CN station.
The prize board will be up to $2,250.
When other non-profit groups come on board and start hosting weekly bingos at the Volunteer Bureau, they will run Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Eventually, other groups may want to host their own bingos at other locations.
At this point, said Kotnik, no groups have stepped forward to host their own bingos, but she’s hopeful that will change “in the very near future.”
“We’ve had several association meetings since the closure of the bingo hall. We’re trying to keep charities up to speed as to what we’re doing,” she remarked.
“We had to get the one licence approved first.
“So now, hopefully, it will be much easier to start getting extra licences and different locations, and get some fundraising back to those people.”
Kotnik stressed the need to get bingo revenues coming in is crucial for some local groups, such as “Fun in the Sun.”
“I’m on that committee, as well, and we’re in trouble,” she warned. “We’re in trouble for fireworks. It was $14,000 for fireworks last year, and it was the best Fort Frances had ever had. But bingo did it.
“This year it could be sparklers handed out at the parade.”
After re-opening at its new location on McIrvine Road last July, the Fort Frances Bingo Hall closed its doors at the end of 2006.
At that time, owners cited the provincial smoking ban and the inability to compete with the Couchiching Bingo Palace as major factors in the closure.
But the Fort Frances Bingo Association continued to hold meetings and the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau took action almost immediately, submitting an application Jan. 3 for a lottery licence to run a bingo.
This licence was granted by the town last week.

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