Smokers Face Bleak Future at Bingo Halls

Today most states have smoking bans in place to protect the public from secondhand smoke. In the UK there is a national smoking ban in place that prohibits smoking in any enclosed space including bingo halls. In 2006 the band went into effect with disastrous results for bingo halls. A survey taken at the time showed that almost 63% of all bingo players smoked. Attendance at games dropped and it took years for bingo halls to recover. When the UK ban was imposed some bingo operators took steps to accommodate smokers. Outside smoking areas were constructed at some bingo halls but inclement weather limited their use. One enterprising operator started ‘bingo cruises’ outside of territorial waters where smoking is legal. The move was unsuccessful.

In the United States most individual states have passed smoking bans with different sets of rules. A report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) showed that casino and bingo hall employees are exposed to toxic levels of secondhand smoke at work. The report also said that tobacco-specific carcinogens increased in the body during shifts. The report also said that casino workers are at risk for lung and heart disease because of secondhand smoke. Amazingly the report found that workers in ‘well ventilated’ casinos and bingo halls had levels of cotinine (metabolized nicotine) levels 300-600% higher than in other smoking workplaces. After the passage of Ontario, Canada’s Smokefree Indoor Air Law levels of the carcinogen NNAL were reduced by 52% in nonsmoking casino employees and cotinine levels declined by 98%. The evidence against smoking is overwhelming and even tobacco producing states have implemented broad smoking bans.

In some states smoking is still permitted in bingo halls and casinos much to the dismay of nonsmoking players. In a letter to a Missouri newspaper one nonsmoking player expressed her dismay and stated I know many people who are no longer able to play bingo due to the secondhand smoke they are exposed to. People say it is harder and harder to get workers at the bingo because of the smoke. I hope I never have to give up bingo completely; it is one of the few activities I can still participate in. I wish I could wash the smoke out of my lungs as easily as I can wash it out of my clothes.” Smoking does not enjoy the widespread acceptance it once had. Today’s young players do not want to be exposed to smoke and a majority has expressed a preference for nonsmoking casinos and bingo halls.

Bingo fans that smoke have an option. They can play internet bingo in their own homes. At most internet bingo sites there is the same sense of community found at live bingo halls. In states with strict smoking bans internet bingo games may be the only option open to bingo players that smoke. For smokers the future looks bleak. Some cities have prohibited smoking in any public space including parks and beaches. Smoking is a bad habit that is slowly dying.