Bingo Ripoff?

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62 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Just got off the Star, and noticed something very disturbing about the Bingo games. It appears the payoffs are not based on a percentage of sales, but are instead fixed at an extremely low amount, independent of actual ticket sales revenue. My quick order of magnitude guess (based on attendance observations and estimates) for our 10 day cruise was that Princess sold about $50,000 worth of tickets, and gave away about $5,000 total in prizes. What's worse is that if they managed to sell $100,000 in tickets, they would still only payout $5,000! Every ticket sold after the first 200 or so is 100% profit for the cruiseline! I'm sure most people assume that the bingo offered is the traditional scheme where the more people play, the bigger the jackpot, but it does not appear to be the case. Even if the house kept 50 cents of every dollar I could still enjoy a game, but the fixed payout model is so outrageously unfair it almost seems borderline unethical to me... any other thoughts?
14,496 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
I guess if people did not like the prize amounts vs what they paid for a card, then they would stop playing. Same goes for gambling in the casino.
San Francisco Bay Area
12,318 Posts
Joined Apr 2004
Easy... Don't play
I just got off the Star this morning and saw that there was standing room only playing Bingo so I guess other people don't mind the payout..
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"Laissez les bon temps rouler!"

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Greenville, SC, USA
52,274 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
But isn't the excitement and the drama of the whole event wrth something?

Bingo is a profit center for all cruise lines. If you are expacting decent odds, play the lottery - they pay out about 50%.
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Ft. Mill, South Carolina
1,510 Posts
Joined May 2008
We gave up cruise ship bingo several years ago. Too much money for too little chance to win. Never took the time to figure out the payout like you did, but it just felt like a rip off.

Nothing has kept me from the roulette wheel though where I usually break even by the end of the cruise.
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Diann & George
The Land of Ahhs!
44,132 Posts
Joined Mar 2003
Haven't played bingo onboard a ship in years. Ever since they changed the pay out, it no longer interested me. Should have asked before you left, we could have given you the scoop so you didn't waste your money.
111 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Kingfoot how right you are, I just dont play anymore but my DW enjoys it, I hear now they are selling electronic boards at $70.00 a session all you do is just sit there? it gives you all kinds of chances but it is just another scam to increase the profits. Good Post.CUDDER
Calgary Alberta Canada
1,602 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
We haven't played Bingo on board, for ages. Too much money, too fast, low payouts. Would rather spend (lose) money in the Casino
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62 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Originally posted by LARGIN
Easy... Don't play
I just got off the Star this morning and saw that there was standing room only playing Bingo so I guess other people don't mind the payout..
Greetings fellow traveler. I must say overall it was actually a great cruise.

Fortunately, I have an advanced math degree and can easily smell a rip off by thinking about the basic gaming economics. Clearly, I won't be playing cruise line bingo any more. However, I feel sick to my stomach for other travelers many of which are seniors and may not understand exactly why the Princess bingo structure is such a rip off for them. Since cruise ship gaming is essentially unregulated, there are no state gaming commissions to enforce disclosure or reasonable protections for consumers. I can pretty much guarantee that such a gaming structure would not survive any reasonable fairness test.

Sure, there is a "high" to participating in a jackpot bingo game in a crowded cruise ship lounge, but for me that benefit does not mean I'm willing to give away money. On top of that is the sinking feeling that most of the room has no idea how badly their being taken. I can guarantee you that if the pot actually got bigger with ticket sales, the customer satisfaction with bingo would actually increase.

It would be one thing if the cruise ships take were merely an obscenely large percentage (like 90 percent), but its another thing entirely when the passenger's upside is completely limited. No matter how many tickets Princess sells, that first game is worth -- $100 dollars. (that's about a sofa or two worth of ticket sales). I even witnessed a $125 dollar pot split six ways! This means even the winners lost money!

Finally, it's fine to say -- its your choice, don't participate. But don't forget that there is a finite amount of space and time on any voyage. Every vista-lounge-hour spent swindling passengers out of bingo money, is another hour lost for things like cultural lectures, cooking demos, and other forms of non-revenue entertainment.

<begin rant>
More generally, I would almost rather pay a little more $$ for my cruise on a truly all inclusive cruise line than spend the entire cruise feeling that the cruise line is trying to maximize its revenue from me with bogus bingo games, art auctions, jewelry sales, shore excursions (aka more jewelry sales), internet charges, etc... I fear that cruising will eventually turn into the vacation equivalent of a 10 day "time share" sales pitch.
</ end rant>
In the Valley, CA
23,023 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
The only time I ever played bingo (at least for money; not counting when a kid) was on my first cruise, and that was because we were taking part in as many activities as possible. But since I'm not that lucky at bingo and gambling (and just don't find those things fun), I usually stay away from the bingo matches and the casino. But I do love participating in the trivia matches. To each his own.

If someone doesn't mind the odds, they have that choice.
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lakewood, Ca USA
3,025 Posts
Joined Sep 2000
We don't usually play Bingo onboard, have done so on a couple occassions, never really sat down to figure it out math wise , but what OP says makes sense. Sure something to think about.
California to New Mexixo
1,267 Posts
Joined May 2000
Maybe the "seniors" just enjoy playing - or the "youngins" for that matter. I don't think they are all "high" and don't understand the payouts. To each their own, its their money, their time, their vacation. BTW, we have been known to play Bingo a time or two and I never got high doing it.

Besides the Bingo, how was the rest of your cruise?
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Future cruises - Coral Princess - Ft Lauderdale-SF 05/04/2011, Coral Princess Alaska 9/10, 9/17, 9/24/2011, Star Princess 4/28/20012 SF/Hawaii/SF
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New York State
2,652 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
I am sorry that you did not understand before your first cruise the difference between playing a game of bingo on a cruiseship and going to a bingo hall to enjoy an evening of bingo.

I don't find the prizes awarded for playing bingo on a cruise ship disturbing or a rip off. It is simply an activity where some passengers find a few minutes fun if they choose to participate. The prize to be awarded at each session is announced in the daily Patter so everyone knows before they attend what they might win should they choose to participate. Its pretty easy to see that the prizes are of a set nature and not associated with actual ticket sales. In most cases its a single game of chance and not anything similiar to an evening at a bingo hall. Of coarse it's a money maker for cruiselines as are all activities that have a price attached to them when on a cruise.

It sounds great to hear of an all inclusive cruise but in reality I don't think I'd be happy paying for so many activities that I'd never participate in so I guess I'm better off on a cruise where I can enjoy all that is inclusive and choose where I want to spend my extra money and keep my funds from being spent on activities that I neither enjoy nor want to do.
2,693 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
"its your choice, don't participate. But don't forget that there is a finite amount of space and time on any voyage. Every vista-lounge-hour spent swindling passengers out of bingo money, is another hour lost for things like cultural lectures, cooking demos, and other forms of non-revenue entertainment."

It's all about the On-Board Revenue. What a waste of time.

I would rather throw my money at the shore excursions, boutiques, spa, and [email protected] classes.
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Beijing, China
1,239 Posts
Joined Apr 2002
Anybody who plays "sucker games" like Bingo, the Lottery, or penny slot machines is just setting himself up to lose. If they are that dumb, they deserve everything they get - or lose.
464 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
It's like many other things on a cruise these days. it goes towards keeping down cruise prices. If they dropped this and many other money making activities on the ship the cost of a cruise would double.

I am quiet happy for people to book the ship excursions, buy in the shops, purchase photos, play bingo. I don't want to do any of these things and it lowers what I have to pay to be on the ship.
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