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60 percent of U.S. gambles on `Bingo’

Jun 4, 2001  •  Post A Comment

The creators of “Bingo Television” have won their own cash prize.
Mansfield Television Distribution has now cleared the upcoming game show strip in 60 percent of the country, including WCIU-TV in Chicago, for a fall launch and is now giving “Bingo” a “firm go” for the season, according to company President John Mansfield.
Among the stations most recently nabbing “Bingo” for their fall schedules are WNDS-TV in Boston, KHCV-TV in Seattle, WTWN-TV in Miami and KPTN-TV in St. Louis. Additional markets where clearance deals have been inked include Philadelphia (WTVE/WGTW-TV), Dallas (KLDT-TV), Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla. (WTOG-TV) and Portland, Ore. (KWBP-TV). Clearance deals are currently being negotiated in the country’s top two markets, New York and Los Angeles.
“We are very pleased with the excitement `Bingo Television’ is generating and with the enthusiasm of our affiliates,” said Bob Lienhard, chief operating officer of producing company U-DUB Productions, LLC. “People love the idea of being able to play at home in their living rooms to win cash and prizes, and we feel the potential success of the show is enormous.”
However, holding up the action could be an age-old law in New York targeting gambling.
In 1957, a modification was made in New York law barring bingo. It allowed the game to be legal if it’s played at home for amusement, if participants don’t pay to play, if prizes are nominal and if no more than 15 people are involved. Last month, “Bingo Television” distributor Mansfield Television hired a lobbying firm, Powers, Crane and Co., to push for the passage of a bill that would let the show go on.
Crane and Albany attorney Josh Koenig are working with legislators to get a bill passed that would eliminate the “15 people” and “nominal prizes” caveats.
“It used to be perceived that bingo was gambling, but with [this] show, nobody has to put up any money-and therefore nobody risks losing any,” said Mr. Mansfield. “Anyone will be able to get a card online, call a 1-800 number or go into a local store and get one for free. Therefore, it’s not gambling.”
The company hopes to have a legislative decision before the Sept. 17 launch date. The half-hour show is being offered nationally as a strip on a barter basis, with a 3.5 national/3.5 local split.