Charity Bingo Games May End Due to Smoking Ban

As news reports from the past five years indicate bingo and smoking bans do not mix well. In the UK when the national smoking ban was imposed in 2007 dozens of bingo halls closed their doors and hundreds of jobs were lost. Bingo is also a major source of income for charities and churches. Smoking bans have severely limited many charities from raising adequate amounts to fund their good works. In Ohio one parish was forced to raise tuition for students after a smoking ban emptied out their bingo hall. In the past bingo halls accommodated smokers and surveys have shown that majority of bingo players are smokers. In Arlington Texas one bingo hall estimates that 85% of its bingo players are smokers.

This month the Arlington Citizens for Clean Air (ACCA) has asked the city council to ban smoking in all public buildings. Existing smoking ordinances include a ban on smoking in restaurants and several public buildings. The city had exempted the bingo hall from the smoking ban. In several locales bars and bingo halls are exempt from smoking bans. Now the ACCA is asking the council to ban smoking at the bingo hall.

The Moose lodge in Arlington hosts one bingo game session a week. Charities receive about $1,000 weekly from the bingo games at the Moose hall. For most it is a win win situation; the players enjoy the games and local charities benefit. For many players smoking is part of the atmosphere at bingo halls. Lauren Stubbs of the Moose Lodge in Arlington said smoking and gambling go together. At the present time about 30 Texas cities and towns ban smoking in workplaces. Many have comprehensive bans with no exceptions while others have carved out exceptions for bingo halls. Charities in Arlington are worried that if a total ban is imposed smokers will attend games in other town where smoking is allowed.

David Fusco of the ACCA says that smoking is not an integral part of any business. His contention is that people who say smoking bans will hurt their business need to consider what they are offering besides smoking. Fusco says that smoking is a health hazard. Locals say that most likely Fusco has never attended a bingo event at the Moose lodge. Moose Lodge bingo chairman Tim Warner says that a total smoking ban could end bingo in Arlington. The city council has formed a committee to research the request for a total smoking ban. Hopefully the committee will take into consideration how a total ban would affect local charities. Charity is a community wide concern. It appears that Fusco is bent on imposing his views on those that do not share them and could care less about local Arlington charities.