Dear Aunt Bingo,
recently moved into a senior citizen apartment complex.
They have money Bingo gambling with no prizes. Each
session has about nine games. I played a total of two
sessions, each session on a different day. I stopped
playing when I found out the following.
1. The person
running the Bingo sessions is a resident and is listed
as the host in the community’s monthly calendar of
events and is also the caller. This person also has
another player “secretly” playing a Bingo card for her.
Plus, this host/caller/player (three separate identities
at the same time) won at least one of the money games at
the last session I played, maybe more. After the session
was over, in a conversation with a player who had won
the most games, the player told me all the games won
weren’t all hers—that the host/caller had also won on a
card she was playing for her. I showed no reaction and
asked no further questions. But, as I stated earlier, I
stopped all Bingo playing there.
2. I didn’t mention
this to any other player (always over 20 people), a main
reason being I am a new tenant and didn’t want to start
or get involved in any controversy.
3. The last
session I played, the cash ball, had reached over $170
and I’ve heard it has gotten much higher in the past.
Also, there’s a $3.50 per Bingo card charge to play in
4. Another aspect: Both times on
separate days, balls have “somehow” fallen out of the
Bingo cage onto the floor, and the caller was calling
numbers already called. A number of times we players had
to say: “You already called that number!”
have no gambling license and these Bingo sessions are
held twice a week under the auspices of the apartment
6. After the first session I
played I asked management (the office) for a copy of the
policies governing Bingo playing at the complex. They
indicated they would get me a copy. However, after my
third time asking, the activities director admitted
there were no written rules.
Isn’t this illegal?
2. At a minimum, isn’t it
unethical and wrong—and therefore illegal—to have the
Bingo host who is running the session also be the caller
and be secretly playing in the same games against all
the other players by having another player play a card
3. Since there is money involved and it is
gambling, shouldn’t they have written rules (with a copy
posted on our community bulletin board) and especially
if written rules are asked for as I did?
comments, suggestions, etc. about this situation would
be appreciated. —CD, Las Vegas
This is obviously not
an official “licensed” operation, but more of a
community Bingo pulled together by a senior resident
with the approval of the apartment complex management.
This is reinforced by that fact that “always over 20
people” play there (which is far too small a number for
a licensed charity Bingo to survive) as well as the fact
that one person is running it and calling the numbers.
The complication here is that money is involved (people
paying to play and winning cash prizes)—which is a basic
definition of gambling. If the games were free and the
prizes were little dollar-store items, no one would
probably care that balls were dropped and numbers were
being called incorrectly. But once a buy-in is added,
you expect fair, well-run Bingo to take place. When it
gets sloppy with lots of mistakes, participants may get
angry and feel cheated.
I think you are wise to stay
away from this Bingo and leave it for people who are
less concerned about how it is run. If I were you, I
would find the nearest licensed Bingo hall with the
rules and regulations you are looking for and spend your
dollars there. —Aunt Bingo
Share your views! Write to Aunt Bingo c/o the Bingo Bugle, P.O. Box 527, Vashon, Washington 98070, or email her at STENGL456@aol.com. Be sure to include your name and address (you can request that your name not be published), as typically she will not include anonymous letters in her columns.