Newmarket teams up with brewery in charity bingo battle

Market Brewing Company obtains license for bingo nights despite rejection by local charity gaming association

The town of Newmarket returns Market Brewing Company its charity bingo night despite claims by the local charity gaming association.

The City Committee of the Whole unanimously approved Market Brewing’s bingo hall application, which will allow it to host a charity bingo night for up to two nights a week. The company is looking to run a weekly event for three hours, having started and stopped them in 2020.

The Newmarket and Ontario gaming charities contested the request, concerned about the possible impact on their fundraising. But Mayor John Taylor said he didn’t think Market Brewing would be competition for the full-time Bingo World and Gaming venue used by the associations.

“The operation of Market Brewing will not impact it one iota,” Taylor said. “It’s just too small in comparison.”

Charity bingo is regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), with licenses provided by municipalities. Market Brewing chief executive Piers Simpkin said he launched a bingo night in 2020 with some success, but discontinued them in November 2020 due to pandemic restrictions. He then discovered that a license was needed, and he said he has since been working on an app to resume the business and raise money for local charities.

But the Newmarket Charitable Gaming Association and its provincial counterpart, as well as Bingo World and Gaming, rebuffed the request. The organization counts 50 local non-profit organizations among its members, who can volunteer at Bingo World to raise money for their causes.

The association’s vice president, Claudia Cozza, told the board that the pandemic has sincerely hampered fundraising efforts for the past two years. She said they feared Market Brewing’s candidacy would make matters worse.

“The negative impacts that another gaming facility will have on charitable gaming in our region are not fully recognized,” Cozza said. “We believe that the current atmosphere is not compatible with the addition of other facilities of this type.”

But Simpkin likened the situation to new breweries opening in Newmarket and said he had lived with it when they arrived. He noted that Bingo World is open over 100 hours a week, compared to the three hours he wants bingo to run.

He said their event is a chance for charities that aren’t part of the association to get some extra dollars.

“It will further strengthen our community by adding additional support for charities that have been missed,” Simpkin said.

His candidacy was endorsed by five charities, including Inn From the Cold, Newmarket Food Pantry, Rose of Sharon, PKD Foundation of Canada and the Ontario SPCA Provincial Education and Animal Centre.

Councilor Jane Twinney said she believes in competition, but regardless, Market Brewing is a different entity.

“People who might be attending an event there might never have even considered going to Bingo World,” she said, adding that it might encourage more residents to come to Bingo World. games center.

Taylor said he understands gaming groups are concerned this will cause more places to start bingo nights, fracturing the market.

“That’s a more interesting question that we have to wrestle with,” he said. “I don’t know the answer to that question yet. We will have to look into it. »

However, he added that he doesn’t think it makes sense to ban new bingo facilities now, adding that the AGCO requires municipalities to be “fair and equitable” when issuing licenses.

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