Bingo expands at fairgrounds

DEL MAR — Bingo will no longer be limited to the Surfside Race Place. At the request of the six nonprofit groups currently allowed to operate the game at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, City Council unanimously agreed at the Sept. 12 meeting to permit play at other locations throughout the facility.
In March, council members approved permits for the San Diego County Fairgrounds, Don Diego Fund, Encinitas Country Day School Parent Teacher Organization, Southern California Yeshiva High Tech, Camp Binyan Torah and Del Sol Lions Club. One condition was that games could only be held at the Surfside Race Place.
Each session costs the host organization approximately $4,000. About 150 to 200 people were expected to attend each session, with 120 participants representing the break-even point.
So far each session has been averaging around 80 people. According to a city staff report, the groups say limiting the games to one venue is hampering attendance, especially during the fair horse racing, when potential players are elsewhere on the site.
The original condition was imposed to address potential impacts on traffic and the surrounding community. According to the staff report there have been no problems since games began five months ago.
Planning Manager Adam Birnbaum said he doesn’t anticipate any adverse impacts but reminded council that the permits are only valid for two years so the city can address problems during the renewal process.
The city doesn’t receive any money from bingo other than sales tax from food and beverages sold during the games. More participants would likely increase that revenue.
Bingo is also allowed in public facility zones such as Powerhouse Community Center, the library and City Hall.

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