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 The debate goes on

Dear Aunt Bingo,
I recently found myself faced with the question of what is the appropriate amount to tip at Bingo. Since I enjoy reading your perspective regarding my favorite game, I figured you would be able to offer some insight.
I've been a regular Bingo player for about four years. I am not a fan of machines, so the hall I play at is all paper. I love the game immensely and, when I'm fortunate enough to win, I always tip 10%—which I thought was the “standard.”
A few weeks ago, however, I had a conversation about tipping with another regular player. According to him, my way of thinking is way off base.
Our talk took place during the first session of the day and centered on a HUGE cash ball that was up for grabs during one of the evening sessions. I casually mentioned that if I were to hit it I would tip 10% because that’s what I always do. He scoffed and said, “10% is way too much for Bingo,” and went on to tell me how much he tips when he wins. (I’d rather not specify the amount here, but I will say that it's significantly less than what I tip).
Although I know that everyone has their own ideas when it comes to this subject, his comments did surprise me. What are your thoughts? —Renee F., Las Vegas, Nevada

Dear Renee,
Tipping is a popular topic in this column and one which generates lots of opinions from both sides of the Bingo table.
The majority of workers I’ve heard from (who are employed at for-profit Bingos) say they work for little more than minimum wage and count on tips to supplement that income. (I stress for-profit because charity Bingo is run by volunteers who should not be expecting or getting tips.) These workers see their role as part of the service industry which, like restaurant servers or taxi drivers, traditionally includes tipping for that service.
Generally speaking, my understanding is that these workers expect just what you have been tipping—10%—which is considerably less than you would other service providers.
The debate begins, however, with those players who do not consider Bingo workers part of the service industry and do not feel a specific percentage of their prize money should be given up. This is certainly understandable: After months of losing at Bingo, what player wants to surrender $100 of his or her long-awaited $1,000 jackpot? For these folks, giving a Bingo worker a flat $5, $10, or $20 tip is as far as they are willing to go, in no small part because of all the money they have spent on Bingo without a win.
As one player wrote: “I’ve spent plenty of money going to Bingo, trying repeatedly to win. Once I’m lucky enough to win, I prefer to ‘share the joy’ with my family, who truly helps me all the time, not strangers who never have! Why should I be obligated to tip anyone who didn’t provide a personal service to me?”
Part of the issue may be that people who currently, or at some time in their lives, worked at a job that relied on tips, understand how important tipping is and make sure to tip appropriately in service situations. Those who have not been at the receiving end of tipping may view it as an option they should not be obligated to exercise.
A Bingo worker once commented: “It is time to inform the entire Bingo community that tipping is customary and, yes, it should be 10%. It is quite discouraging to go above and beyond to assist Bingo players and be tipped next to nothing. Maybe you can’t tip 10%, but be fair. You win $10,000 and tip $20? Really?”
To sum up, I personally feel that Bingo workers are indeed in the service industry. And if I feel that a worker is doing his or her best to make sure I have an enjoyable time at Bingo, I will share my good fortune with them at the rate of at least 10%. If the service just isn’t there, then the worker should not be surprised—or complain—if the tip is smaller. —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 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.

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