CGAA bingo hall closingThe Cottage Grove Athletic Association Bingo Hall will close April 11, the CGAA Board of Directors decided Monday night.
By: Scott Wente, South Washington County Bulletin
The Cottage Grove Athletic Association Bingo Hall will close April 11, the CGAA Board of Directors decided Monday night.
Gambling and bingo hall manager Mary Perren said the hall’s decline in revenues was mostly a result of the statewide smoking ban enacted last October, although the slow economy could be partly to blame, she said.
The hall, located next to Rainbow Foods off of 80th Street, used to bring in $100,000 in profits per year. Proceeds go toward the Cottage Grove Athletic Association programs. The hall saw its most profitable August and September ever last year, she said. Since the ban was put in place, though, receipts have been down 50 percent, meaning the hall has been losing money.
“I think the politicians at the Capitol should have really looked at the impact when they passed this,” she said. “We had a wonderful smoke eater and they wouldn’t allow any type of compromise.”
Perren said charitable gaming across the country has been hit hard by smoking bans, and she expected Cottage Grove’s hall would suffer from the ban. After the closure, she’ll go from working full time for CGAA to part time, and the hall’s 30 staff members will be looking for other jobs.
“It’s a very sad time for all of us,” she said.
The bingo hall was CGAA’s biggest fundraiser, but Perren said the organization also brings in money by selling pull tabs. They have one site at American Motorsports, and will open another one at Franke’s Bar in St. Paul Park.
She said state regulations on charitable gambling mandate that expenses must be less than 70 percent of receipts for a bingo hall to keep operating. An organization that does not stay within those guidelines can be fined, she said.
The association’s lease on its space is up at the end of April she said, and they’ll be looking for another location to house the CGAA offices and meetings.
Other charities started the bingo hall more than 15 years ago, she said, and CGAA got involved with it in 1992.