DEL MAR — A new fundraiser is coming to Del Mar and bingo is its name. At the Sept. 20 meeting, council members approved the first reading of an ordinance that will allow the game in the city, but only at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and in public facility zones such as Powerhouse Community Center, the library and City Hall.
That means bingo will not be permitted at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church — a venue commonly associated with the game — because it is located in a residential zone.
A draft ordinance presented at the July 26 meeting allowed bingo in residential areas specifically so it could be played at St. Peter’s, Planning Manager Adam Birnbaum said. But council members had issues with that provision.
“I think making that exception for one organization opens the door to other bingo games in residential areas that we don’t want to deal with,” Councilman Don Mosier said.
Allowing midnight bingo, which was also discussed at the July meeting, was not included in the final ordinance either. Play hours will be 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
State law allows charitable bingo as a means to provide alternative funding for nonprofit organizations. It dictates maximum payouts, who can host the games and how much the city can recover — a maximum of $50 for processing fees and the costs to provide law enforcement and other public safety services.
Last year officials from the 22nd District Agricultural Association submitted a request to host bingo at the fairgrounds to help make up for a decline in satellite wagering at the Surfside Race Place.
The 22nd DAA established the Friends of the San Diego County Fairgrounds as its nonprofit organization to operate the games. Proceeds will be used for the Don Diego Fund, which provides college scholarships to area high school seniors who have participated in fairgrounds events, and to fund capital improvements at the facility.
Local governments must establish an ordinance permitting the game. Until now, Del Mar was the only city in the county that did not allow bingo. The ordinance will be in effect for a two-year trial period.
Organizations that want to host bingo must submit an application and pay the $50 fee. The initial application will be reviewed by City Council.
If, after two years, the operator wants to renew the permit, the planning director will review the request provided there are no changes. If the permit is denied, the operator can appeal to City Council.
Operators must comply with state laws and provide off-street parking. Remote play is prohibited, and records must be made available to the city.
Tim Fennell, fairgrounds general manager, stated in a letter to the city that the Surfside Race Place will be available for rent at an affordable rate to nonprofit groups that want to use the facility for bingo.
Bingo will be allowed 30 days after adoption of the final ordinance, which is scheduled for the Oct. 4 meeting.