Opposition to Bingo?

For decades bingo has been a socially acceptable form of gambling. The game’s long association with churches and charities has lent respectability to the game that other forms of gambling do not enjoy. Bingo halls are rarely associated with criminal activity and because of the relatively low stakes involved the game does not attract problem gamblers. Internet bingo is one of the most popular forms of online gambling and millions of people from around the world play online regularly. In the UK alone there are over 1 million regular internet bingo players. Most people do not put bingo and hard core gaming like poker in the same category.

Because if bingo’s reputation as ‘soft’ gambling regulations are light in many jurisdictions. Because of bingo’s social acceptability, lack of criminality associated with the game and its popularity worldwide it is always surprising when opposition to bingo takes place. Recently there has been opposition by religious groups in Hawaii to the establishment of bingo halls on native Hawaiian homelands. The Interfaith Alliance and the Hawaii Coalition against Legalized Gambling are opposing any kind of gambling in the state. Recently several bills have been introduced in the legislature that would tax and regulate land based and internet gambling.

In Alabama opposition to electronic bingo has been fierce. Despite the fact that a large majority of Alabama citizens do not oppose gambling there were several raids conducted last year by anti gambling extremist ex Governor Riley and his gambling task force. The bingo fiasco developed into a full blown scandal and there were accusations of bribe taking. In addition the head of Riley’s anti gambling task force was spotted happily gambling at a Mississippi casino. Mississippi gambling interests contributed large sums of money to the fight against gambling in Alabama.

Most of the time bingo opponents’ trot out the old arguments about gambling ‘addiction’ knowing full well that bingo has an extremely low rate of ‘problem’ gambling. Many internet bingo sites have programs in place to identify problem gamblers and will block those players. In the United States a clear majority of people believe that citizens should have the freedom to dispose of their income as they see fit. Many anti bingo and gambling campaigns have been reversed by an informed public who believe in freedom of choice and are standing up to those who would dictate how we should live our lives and spend hard earned money.