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Kids and Bingo


Dear Aunt Bingo:

I was looking through the Bingo Bugle online and saw the letter that “Concerned Adult, Arizona” wrote to you about children at Bingo.

Having been involved with Bingo both as a player and as a worker in three different states, I’ve seen where in two states (Michigan and California) you have to be 18 to be in the hall to play Bingo, while in Texas, some Bingo halls allow kids as long as they are quiet and play Bingo. (Some places I know in Dallas have what they call “kid packs” that they sell.)

I have brought my son with me a few times here in Texas (one night he won twice!) and he was always on his best behavior. I say so long as they behave and if it is allowed, let kids go to Bingo and have fun with their mom and dad. Some parents love to show off their kids! —Dan in Texas


Dear Dan:

I’m with you! The push to ban kids from Bingo continues to gather steam and is the policy at an ever-increasing number of Bingo halls throughout North America.

As far as I have been able to determine, none of these decisions has anything to do with children being noisy or disruptive. The thinking is that Bingo is gambling and that by being exposed to Bingo, children may develop addictive gambling behavior.

It’s a difficult topic to debate when the opening response you get is: “Oh, so you don’t care if your children become gambling addicts?”

Interestingly, in all my years writing this column, I have never received a letter from a victim of gambling addiction who claimed that a trip to the local Bingo hall as a child triggered that addiction. What I have received are many, many letters from people who “think” it is dangerous and “believe” it is bad for kids to play Bingo.

Please believe me, I do not in any way wish to minimize the seriousness of any form of addiction. I’m just hard-pressed to believe that a 7-year-old’s Bingo outing with Mom will trigger it. —Aunt Bingo


Dear Aunt Bingo:

Parents who want to bring their well-behaved children to Bingo are welcome at my hall anytime! That is, they were welcome, until they changed the law and banned children under the age of 18 from playing!

I have enjoyed playing Bingo for years, and honestly cannot remember the last time—or anytime—that small children disrupted the games for any reason.

Frankly, I think it is adorable to see little kids barely big enough to see over the top of the table, sitting in their folding chairs studying their Bingo cards and searching for the last number called, then marking it excitedly with a dauber that’s half the length of their arm. So cute!

Now, apparently, I need to sneak across state lines to see a young family playing Bingo together. What weird times we are living in! —Meg G., New York


Dear Meg:

See my earlier comments.

Interestingly, there has been some pushback on minors being banned from Bingo in your home state of New York.

Earlier this year, state Sen. Timothy Kennedy (D-Buffalo) introduced legislation that would permit minors to play Bingo so long as they are accompanied by an adult. Kennedy said he wanted to ensure that children get the opportunity to participate in the “decades-old tradition of playing Bingo.”

My understanding is that the bill passed the State Assembly 61-1 and was unanimously approved by the state Racing, Wagering and Gaming Committee. I’m guessing that means it is now on its way to the governor’s desk. —Aunt Bingo


Share your views! Write to Aunt Bingo c/o the Bingo Bugle, P.O. Box 527, Vashon, WA 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.

For more great content like this, look for the print edition of the Bingo Bugle in your area: Local Bingo Bugle Publications.

Dear Aunt Bingo