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New Bingo Law Disappoints

Dear Aunt Bingo:
I live in New York State and play Bingo fairly often. My kids
(a girl, 9 and a boy, 12) sometimes like to go with me and
enjoy playing Bingo when they do. They are well behaved,
are quite able to track the balls and follow the caller, and
think Bingo is fun.
As a Mom, I am thrilled that my kids and I have Bingo in
common and I love having our Bingo time to “check in” and
talk about what’s on their minds. It is absolutely amazing
what they share with me and each other during these
relaxed Bingo trips.
Now this has all been ruined. One evening this summer we
went to Bingo as we usually do—but, when I was in the
queue to buy Bingo paper and I asked for four packs, the
woman at the table asked me if I was playing all four. I said
two were for me and two were for the kids. She then said
that the Bingo regs had changed and kids under 18 could
not play. She then said, “Frankly, underage children should
not be in the Bingo hall at all.”
Before I could say a word, a woman behind me in the line
said, “I’m glad they finally made it a law. Kids shouldn’t be
gambling.” People were nodding their heads and adding
their agreement.
I felt like I was being judged as a bad mother by these
strangers because my kids and I play Bingo together. It was
very hurtful. Finally I said, “I appreciate the update, but you
really didn’t need to be so condescending with your
explanation.” After that I turned and got my kids and we left
the Bingo hall.
My kids asked why we left and I explained that they had
changed the law and kids can’t play Bingo anymore. They
seemed accepting, and we smoothed over things by
stopping for donuts on the way home.
I guess I am writing to you because I think this law is dumb. If
kids behave, why shouldn’t they be allowed into Bingo?
Disappointed in Buffalo

Dear Disappointed:
Following is the section of the law you are talking about,
introduced by the New York State Gaming Commission in
July 2017:
Minimum age to play: Consistent with other forms of
gambling in the state, the minimum age to play Bingo is 18
years of age. Minors under the age of 18 are still permitted
to attend, but are not permitted to play Bingo. Persons 16
years of age or older may continue to perform ancillary non-
gaming activities conducted in conjunction with licensed
Bingo, such as assisting at any food concession, cleaning,
maintenance and site preparation. (General Municipal Law
sections 476(13) and 486.)
As the above excerpt notes, the purpose of the regulatory
update is to make Bingo more consistent with “other forms of
gambling” in New York State.
Many Bingo players have argued that minors should not be
permitted to play Bingo because it is a form of gambling and
could expose them to potential addiction. Experts have
concurred, and now, so has New York State, along with
many other states. So I am afraid you have no choice but to
find another activity which you and your children can share.
I will add, however, that part of what the woman said to you
is not part of the new regulations, when she commented:
“underage children should not be in the Bingo hall at all.”
That statement was her opinion, not law. The regulation
says that minors under the age of 18 are still permitted to
attend, but can’t play Bingo, while 16- and 17-year-olds can
help with non-gaming activities such as selling food,
cleaning, maintenance, site preparation—chores we all
know teenagers are sooooooo fond of doing.
—Aunt Bingo

Share your views! Write to Aunt Bingo c/o the Bingo
Bugle, P.O. Box 527, Vashon, Washington 98070, or
email her at STENGL456@aol.com. Be sure to include
your name and address (you can request that your
name not be published), as typically she will not
include anonymous letters in her columns.