Kids Bingo Games Draw the Ire of Australian Politicians

Everybody knows that the game of bingo is an integral part of Britain’s culture. The game’s popularity extends to former colonies such as New Zealand and Australia. The former colonies have followed the lead of the mother country and 90 ball bingo (or ‘housie’ as it is known in Australia) is the most popular and played bingo game. Bingo has attracted devotees from all age groups but in Australia they really start them young! At local bingo clubs children are being entertained with bingo games and a free meal and drinks. Australian bingo clubs are handing out prizes to children like gift vouchers at bingo events. Children as young as five can participate and the cost is only $5.

South’s Juniors, one of Sydney’s premiere venues for food and entertainment and a prominent anti pokies (slot machines) campaigner is the latest club to offer bingo game sessions for children. The games feature $360 dollars worth of gift vouchers from Toy’ R Us. The cost for entering the games is $10 and includes a free kids meal and drink. Club spokesperson Brad Smith said that South’s Juniors is not promoting gambling but it teaching children valuable number skills. Smith’s explanation is entirely plausible since bingo has been used to teach various academic subjects for over a century. The use of bingo as an educational tool began in Germany towards the end of the 19th century and quickly spread. Smith stated “It’s not really promoting gambling, it’s giving them another form of entertainment for the parents and for the kids.”

In Riverwood, a suburb of Sydney, Club Rivers hosts bingo games for children over sic and for $7 children receive a bingo book, dauber and showbag. The trend is spreading and Club Burwood operates kids’ bingo games that include a movie. Panthers Penrith promotes its “Kids Fun Bingo” as great entertainment with “loads of prizes to be won.” Tickets for the games start at $5 and increase to $10 for the inclusion of a drink and a meal. Not everyone is happy with the kid’s bingo games. Anti gambling extremist Senator Nick Xenophon said he believes the games will produce a new generation of ‘problem’ gamblers. Xenophon, always a killjoy, want the state to ban the games. In a lame attempt at humor Xenophon said “Forget about the dingo having my baby, it’s a case of the bingo having my baby.”

The clubs say it is harmless fun and the clubs do not consider the games as a form of gambling. Children already have access to internet bingo games designed for children. Parents like the games and say bingo promotes cognitive development. Marae Iofino, whose three children participated in the games, said bingo games “promotes learning for maths and recognition of numbers.”