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Is Bingo Really Gambling?

For almost as long as Bingo has been played, there have been questions about whether Bingo is gambling or not. The answer apparently lies in the sometimes very narrow definition of both gambling and Bingo.

Did you know that at one time the game Bingo was very limited by legal definition? The only way Bingo could lawfully be played was if players used paper cards. Naturally, some people still believe that playing that form of Bingo should have been called gambling, hence should have been illegal. Bingo is quite popular in many places, including on the Indian reservations where Bingo halls bring in many players and produce significant revenues.

Today, Bingo is less often played on paper cards. The technology has advanced to the point that video Bingo is quite popular, raising the same questions regarding legality and whether the game is gambling.

So how can you set up a legitimate Bingo Game for your club or organization or just for a community gathering? The first thing you should do is check the applicable state and local laws regarding the definitions of gambling, especially as they apply to Bingo. More than likely, many of your options will be limited by those laws. In the earliest days of Bingo, the prize was always a small doll, called a Kewpie doll and a favorite of carnivals because they were made very inexpensively. Today, some organizations play Bingo for cash, though cash prizes are very limited when it comes to obeying the gambling laws. Some Bingo halls even offer Free Bingo Money to entice you into joining. More often, players compete for prizes that range from those carnival like items (dishes, stuffed animals and like) to services and products from area companies.

Take the time to be sure your Bingo event is well within the confines of the laws governing such happenings, and then get ready for the fun. Whether you're playing for prizes or just for fun, there's always a thrill when you can stand up and shout, "Bingo."

Before the introduction of casinos Bingo was one of the biggest sources of revenue on many Indian reservations. It has traditionally been used by churches to raise money for church activities and outreach programs. In fact, when most people think of Bingo they think of a church meeting hall packed with players. In many parts of the United States Bingo is the only legal form of gambling. In some places the authorities simply look the other way because of the relationship of Bingo with charitable purposes. While Bingo may be a game of chance it really isn't gambling when compared to gambling on Casino Games. No matter what the laws are Bingo is here to stay.

By: JC Davis

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