DEL MAR — B-i-n-g-o has b-e-g-u-n.
Exactly six months after the city adopted an ordinance to allow bingo, the first game was played April 4 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds Surfside Race Place.
At the March 28 meeting, council members unanimously approved the first six applications from Friends of the San Diego County Fair, the Don Diego Fund, Encinitas Country Day School Parent Teacher Organization, Southern California Yeshiva High Tech School, Camp Binyan Torah and the Del Sol Lions Club.
Charitable nonprofit organizations can host bingo any evening from 7 to 11 p.m., Fridays beginning at 11 a.m. and Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 1 p.m. All sessions last three hours and are open to the public.
Becky Bartling, fairgrounds deputy general manager, said each session will cost the host organization about $4,000, which includes $1,500 to rent the facility and about $1,300 for supplies. Each group will also have to pay for security.
She said fairgrounds officials expect about 150 to 200 people per session, with 120 participants representing the break-even point.
The city will not receive any revenue from bingo but it will collect sales tax from food and beverage sales. State law allows jurisdictions to recover a maximum of $50 for processing fees and the costs to provide law enforcement and other public safety services.
Applicants were granted two-year conditional permits with 33 stipulations that, among other things, require compliance with state and local laws, prohibit minors and limit games to The Sports Club.
Signs and other promotional material cannot be placed in a city right of way without authorization. Residents had complained that a bingo sign facing Interstate 5 was unsightly, however, a permit was not required because it is on fairgrounds property.
In 2009 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.
Games will be conducted throughout the year, including during the annual fair and horse race meet.
“We’re really excited about it,” Bartling said. “This is going to be a great way for charities to generate revenue.”