New York corps’ bingo operations are hit hard by smoking ban; Patriots file for bankruptcy

After recently announcing that both their division II silver medallist corps and their top-five World Class WGI Guard would go inactive for the coming seasons, Drum Corps World has learned that the Patriots organization has been forced to file for Chapter 11 protection under the Federal Bankruptcy Laws.

Patriots (Rochester, NY)
Photo by Dan Scafidi

With the largest bingo operation in New York State, the July enactment of a 100 percent smoking ban in New York State has set the bingo industry on end and caused an immediate crisis for the Patriots. In a few short weeks, the worst nightmares of the state’s bingo operators have come true. Business reductions of 35 to 50 percent are now the norm throughout the state.

Aggravating the situation is the increased growth of the Indian operations in the state, which were specifically exempted from the smoking ban. The new Seneca Casino at the Niagara Falls Convention Center has been tremendously successful and is a major factor in the decline of charitable bingo in Western New York. Patriots being situated on the far western side of Rochester — that much closer to the Casino and Indian bingo halls — seems to have added to their loss.

Drum Corps World has been told that because of the large size of their hall and overall operation, Patriots were hit the hardest and quickest. After talking with representatives of the area’s three major senior corps who all run bingo, we were told that all three corps have been forced to modify their budgets for 2004, but that they all felt they could keep their head above water.

Additionally, the Brigadiers have received a waiver allowing them to have a separate smoking room at their bingo hall. They were able to begin to allow smoking again on November 29 and they remain very hopeful that they will see some of their previous patrons return. Their waiver was issued by Onondaga County.

Monroe County, which has jurisdiction over the Rochester area halls, has stated publicly that they feel the state has not given them specific enough guidelines to allow them to properly evaluate exemption requests. Various articles in the local papers have indicated that it is doubtful that any exemption requests will be granted any time soon for the halls in that area.

As for the bankruptcy protection filing, Drum Corps World has learned that it was necessary to keep their operation running and that they hope to be able to leave chapter 11 fairly quickly. It is hoped that this former division II champion will be able to get back on its feet very soon.