Is Bingo Considered a Gambling Game?

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Bingo neon sign with lottery balls and stars. Colorful bingo lettering in glowing neon style. Vector illustration for the lottery.

Plenty of people who play bingo don’t get involved in any other forms of gambling, and as it is such a traditional and social game, a lot of people don’t really consider it gambling.

In this guide, we’re delving into whether or not bingo can be considered a gambling game or whether it is simply a lotto-style game where people buy tickets to enter. There is still some debate about whether or not this counts as gambling.

The Argument That Bingo Is Not Gambling

By definition, bingo itself is a game, and this means that it isn’t necessarily gambling. Once you start to involve money then it is more likely that it should be considered gambling.

For example, let’s say a parent is looking for a fun activity to do on a rainy day. They might buy some candy and other prizes and play a game of bingo with the whole family. Even though there might be some very basic prizes this is really just being played as a pastime.

Nobody has to stake any money and a lot of people might just enjoy the prospect of playing the game, marking their cards, and the thrill of watching different numbers pop up. There may also be less in terms of age restrictions if the game is being played without prizes or money.

Bingo games were introduced to the UK and US as more of a “lotto” style game, originally from Italy. Some people don’t consider getting involved in a lottery to be a form of gambling, but this really depends on each person’s own viewpoint. However, in the eyes of the law, the argument isn’t so cloudy and it is pretty straightforward, as explained in the next section…

The Argument That It Is Gambling

Realistically, a lot of the bingo games that people do engage in are gambling by definition. If you stake money in the hope of winning money back, you are gambling. 

When you think about it, bingo games aren’t so different from a lot of the other games that you can play in an online casino. Of course, if you don’t have money involved then it may not be gambling, but you could say the same about any table game or even free slot games.

Is there really any difference between playing a game of bingo and staking on a roulette wheel?

One of the good things about bingo is that it is quite a slow and leisurely game and a lot of the focus is on the social side of the game. It definitely has a slightly different clientele to some of the other gambling games, and as already said a lot of people who play bingo games online don’t have any interest in other forms of gambling, so it is a bit of an outlier.

Regulations in The World of Bingo

Because of the fact that most authorities consider bingo to be gambling, there needs to be a regulated market for it. It would be really unfair if the sites offering online bingo would be able to set their own rules without any regulation, and there need to be some form of regulation to keep everything fair. 

In the UK, for instance, the Gambling Commission is tasked with regulating these online bingo sites. They answer to the government meaning that they are regulated in the same way as other gambling sites such as online casinos. (norvado.com)

In the US, there are still some areas where bingo sites are not actually allowed, further proof that in the eyes of the authorities it is seen as a gambling activity, which is not allowed in every area of the US. 

Summary – Is Bingo Gambling?

In most locations the definition of bingo means that it does need to be classed as gambling, this is to help protect everyone with regulations added to the game. It means that if you play a gambling game there is an official regulatory body that helps ensure the game is totally fair. 

Bingo is definitely a unique prospect as a lot of people don’t categorise it with casino games, but it is still considered gambling by law.

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