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Bingo has a long history as a popular gambling game. Previous research on bingo has been almost exclusively limited to qualitative research. Consequently, little is known about the prevalence of bingo playing, the potential risks associated with regular bingo playing, and its possible influence on the development of problem gambling. The present paper provides a review of the literature on bingo in Western countries using published articles focused on bingo and reports of broad-based gambling surveys containing data on bingo participation. Available data show relatively high rates of past-year bingo participation among adolescents. Within the adult population, females and individuals in poor health reported the highest bingo participation rates. Three general groups of bingo players were identified: low-income individuals, seniors, and young adults. It is argued that although bingo is generally viewed by the public as a “soft” form of gambling, it has the potential to lead to significant problems.
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164 Bingo playing and problem gambling
Bingo playing and problem gambling: A review of our
current knowledge
Jean-Claude Moubarac, N. Will Shead, & Jeffrey L. Derevensky
International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors, McGill
University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Email:
Bingo has a long history as a popular gambling game. Previous research on bingo has
been almost exclusively limited to qualitative research. Consequently, little is known about
the prevalence of bingo playing, the potential risks associated with regular bingo playing,
and its possible influence on the development of problem gambling. The present paper
provides a review of the literature on bingo in Western countries using published articles
focused on bingo and repor ts of broad-based gambling surveys containing data on bingo
participation. Available data show relatively high rates of past-year bingo participation
among adolescents. Within the adult population, females and individuals in poor health
reported the highest bingo participation rates. Three general groups of bingo players were
identified: low-income individuals, seniors, a nd young adults. It is argued that although
bingo is generally viewed by the public as a “soft” form of gambling, it has the potential to
lead to significant problems.
Keywords: bingo, gambling problems, literature review
Problem gambling c ontinues to gain recognition as an important public health issue (Korn &
Shaffer, 1999). However, not all forms of gambling are viewed as carr ying the same level of
risk. One activity often considered a low-risk form of gambling is bingo, which has received
little attention from researchers in the field of gambling studies. In early studies, bingo was
described as a relatively innocuous leisure activity, mostly popular among working class
women in search of entertainment, socialization, and friendship (Dixey, 1987, 1996; King,
1990). Today, bingo is often viewed as a social game without labels of deviance and, in
fact, enjoys an air of benevolence due to its common association with fundraising efforts
(Chapple & Nofziger, 2000; Derevensky, Gupta, Messerlian & Gillepsie, 2004). However,
in recent ethnographical accounts scholars have revealed the other side of bingo, describing
signs and symptoms among regular bingo players that may be associated with excessive
gambling and the development of problem gambling (Chapple & Nofziger, 2000; O’Brien
Cousins & Witcher, 2004, 2007; Maclure, Smith, Wood, Leblanc, Li, & Cuffaro, 2006).
Despite some progress in examining the negative impact on players, the double-sided
nature of bingo as both a form of entertainment and as a source of potential harm is not
doi: 10.4309/2010.24.10
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
Bingo playing and problem gambling 165
well understood. In the absence of a theoretical framework, previous research on bingo
has been almost exclusively limited to sociological perspectives using qualitative methods
to explore and understand the experience of regular bingo players. Studied samples have
been limited, often including regular female bingo players with problem gambling seldom
being evaluated. As a result, very little is known about the prevalence of bingo playing,
the potential risks associated with regular bingo playing, and its possible influence on the
development of problem gambling.
In Western countries the bingo industry has transformed and expanded since the 1980s to
attract a larger and more diverse player pool (Dixey, 1996). Considerable efforts have been
made to modernize the game, including the development of electronic bingo, the expansion
of bingo contests and high-stakes cash prizes, the establishment of land-based bingo room
networks, the development of hundreds of online bingo websites, the appearance of bingo
games on television, and the creation of bingo clubs. These marketing strategies have
broadened the bingo clientele to now include a younger group of participants. From 1982
to 1999, the percentage of United Kingdom (UK) bingo players under 35 years of age
doubled from 18 to 36% (Dixey 1996; Lamacraft, 1999). Across Canada, between 8.6%
and 19.8% of high school students reported trying bingo at least once in the previous
year (Phare, Lane, & Elliott-Erickson, 2007; Dub
e, Tremblay, Traore, & Martin, 2007).
This increase in the number of young bingo players war rants concern considering that
adolescents and young adults are at increased risk for developing gambling and gambling-
related problems compared to adults (Derevensky et al., 2004). With the rapid expansion
of the bingo industr y underway, it is imperative that we gain a better understanding of
the game to evaluate the potential risks posed to bingo players and the unique risk factors
The present paper aims to provide a comprehensive review of the literature on bingo
and problem gambling. Published articles with a focus on bingo were selected using the
MEDLINE and PsycInfo databases, as well as materials retrieved through bibliography-
directed searches. Inclusion criteria for bingo-focused research articles were: (1) studies
conducted in Western World countries (i.e., countries of Wester n Europe, North America,
Australia, or New Zealand), and (2) studies in which bingo was the primary focus. Key
words in the search included gambling, problem gambling, and bingo. In our search, we
found 17 studies that fit the above two criteria. Six studies were conducted in the UK (Dixey
& Talbot, 1982; Dixey, 1987, 1996; Downes, Davies, David, & Stone, 1976; Griffiths &
Bingham, 2002, 2005), one in New Zealand (Clarke & Rossen, 2000), six in the United
States (Burger, 1991; Chapple & Nofziger, 2000, King, 1985a, 1985b, 1987, 1990; Reitz,
2004) and three in Canada (Maclure et al., 2006; O’Brien Cousins & Witcher, 2004, 2007).
Because previous research with a focus on bingo has been almost exclusively limited to
qualitative studies, other sources of data need to be tapped to examine quantitative data on
bingo prevalence, player characteristics, and relationships between bingo play and problem
gambling. For this purpose, we collected reports of large-scale gambling surveys that
queried bingo participation among other types of gambling. Reports of gambling s urveys
were identified through web-based searches using Google. Reports published between
2001 and 2007 conducted in Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand were
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
166 Bingo playing and problem gambling
In the following section, qualitative data from bingo-focused studies are reviewed. First,
the game of bingo is described along with some of its unique features. Next, descriptions
of typical bingo player behaviours are provided. The second section presents a summary of
quantitative data on bingo, including prevalence and frequency of play and player charac-
teristics. Quantitative data is also examined to explore the association between bingo play
and problem gambling. Finally, the existing body of research is discussed as a whole along
with suggestions for future research.
Qualitative Data
The Game of Bingo
Bingo’s origins come from a Genoese lotter y game played throughout Europe in the 16th
century. Although the term bingo has been used as the name of several different games,
the current version of the game was first played in Jacksonville, Florida and then brought
to New York City in 1929, before spreading across the US during the Great Depression
(Schwartz, 2006). Spurred by Carl Leffler, a mathematics professor at Columbia University
who developed 6,000 non-repeating cards, the game was quickly adopted by churches and
charitable organizations as a fundraising activity. Of par ticular significance and importance
is that “bingo laid a solid foundation for the public acceptance of gambling as a tolerable
fund-raising tool” (Schwartz, 2006, p. 380).
Bingo is a game solely based on luck in which numbered balls are drawn at random while
players mark off the corresponding numbers on their purchased cards that feature randomly
chosen numbers arranged in columns and rows (usually five-by-five matrices). As the game
is played in real time players follow the sequence of numbers revealed one at a time which
adds suspense as the outcome of each game looms. A game concludes when the first player
achieves a unique combination of numbers that completes a pre-specified pattern (e.g., five-
in-a-row). At that point the winner typically calls out “Bingo!” to signify that they possess
a winning card. In contrast to other games where the outcome is quicker, such as lottery
scratch tickets and video lottery terminals (VLTs), bingo can be characterized as an ongoing
game whose outcome is revealed relatively slowly, with players reporting a moderate to
a high level of excitement (Chapple & Nofziger, 2000). In traditional bingo, players are
minimally involved; their only task is to mark the numbers called on the bingo card.
However, in contrast to lottery draws, bingo players must be physically present as the game
unfolds. Superstitious beliefs and practices, which are believed to influence the outcome of
the game, are highly prevalent in the bingo culture. Players might “reserve” special seats,
use troll dolls as good luck charms, and wear “lucky” outfits (Griffiths & Bingham, 2005).
Bingo is commonly played in bingo halls, local churches, community centres, and casinos.
In contrast to bingo halls, casino bingo has fewer socialization opportunities, larger cash
prizes, and tends to be more competitive (Chapple & Nofziger, 2000).
With the recent introduction of electronic bingo, numbers are automatically marked on
the card, leaving bingo players to merely follow the game as it unfolds. In this modern
form of bingo, the machine informs the players how many numbers are missing before
they can win, ultimately adding an aspect of perceived suspense and excitement to the
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
Bingo playing and problem gambling 167
experience. Bingo is now readily offered in the form of a network where players from
multiple jurisdictions compete simultaneously against each other for a cumulative jackpot
sometimes in excess of $100,000. More than a hundred internet websites now offer bingo
online for both entertainment and money. Some of these websites make use of structural
properties (design, colors, and content) to specifically target adolescents (Derevensky &
Gupta, 2007).
Bingo Players’ Behaviour
Bingo players tend to view bingo as a game of chance or luck (King, 1990; Griffiths &
Bingham, 2005); yet, the use of superstitious beliefs and practices among bingo players
has been reported in numerous studies and clinical observations (Chapple & Nofziger,
2000; Dixey 1987; King, 1990; Griffiths & Bingham, 2005). Dixey (1987) observed that
many bingo players have ritual routines such as purchasing cards for the game in a particular
order, selecting the same seat, wearing “lucky” clothes, and using specific pens and daubers.
Chapple and Nofziger (2000) observed the use of coins, rocks, figurines, stuffed animals,
and framed pictures during play that are shifted around on the bingo cards as numbers
are called. King (1990) argued that “assigning luck to an object or practice is an ongoing
process” (p.57) and “some players contend that what they do inside and outside the bingo
parlour greatly affects how much they win” (p. 53). On the other hand, Griffiths and
Bingham (2005) observed that more quotidian superstitious beliefs (e.g., a belief that the
number 13 is always unlucky) were reported by bingo players compared to superstitious
beliefs specifically related to bingo play (e.g., sitting in the same seat for luck).
Different explanations have accounted for the use of superstition during bingo play. Griffiths
and Bingham (2005) suggested that having superstitious beliefs may simply be a way to add
excitement to the game. King (1990) believes that bingo players are in a conflict between
playing for charity and playing to win. She argues that because of this dilemma, players
employ various strategies to deny responsibility of winning and justify their involvement in
the game. By adopting superstitious behaviour and attributing luck to objects, players put
an emphasis on the chance aspects of bingo which lowers personal commitment towards
playing to win. King also notes that other players justify their bingo playing by stressing
the charitable aspects of the game.
Alternatively, the use of superstitious practices in bingo might reflect a coping strategy
used by players to gain perceived control in a game where the outcome is completely
unpredictable and requires no skill (Reith, 1999). However, it is not clear if bingo players
believe they can exert control over the outcome of a bingo game using superstitious beliefs
and practices. This is an important question to address since an illusion of control is thought
to be associated with the development of problem gambling (Joukhador, Maccallum, &
Blaszczynski, 2003). According to Chapple and Nofziger (2000), bingo players who used
charms during bingo play believe on some leve l that the charm can influence the outcome of
the game. Based on informal observations, they noted that players with the most elaborate
shrines or collection of charms played the greatest number of cards.
In Griffiths and Bingham’s study (2005) only one significant result was found regarding
superstitious beliefs when playing bingo
a greater percentage of heavy spenders (those
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
168 Bingo playing and problem gambling
who spend £20 or more in one bingo hall visit) stated they always sat in the same seat for
luck. According to Burger’s (1991) experimental studies on the desire for control in games
of chance, bingo players incorporating superstitious behaviour have a low desire for control
and do not view themselves as having power or control over the outcome. Instead, as the
author suggests, these players may relinquish control to another source, a lucky object, when
they believe this action leads to a more desirable outcome. This finding fits with the type
of superstitious beliefs and practices reported in previous studies and the fact that bingo
players tend to view bingo as a game of chance and not as a game of skill where control
lies within players (Griffiths & Bingham, 2005; King, 1990). However, very little research
has been conducted so far to understand the relation between superstition and bingo play.
Quantitative Data
Prevalence and Frequency of Play
Reports based on large-scale gambling surveys were reviewed for bingo-related data. These
studies were mostly conducted within specific regions of Western countries (e.g., state-wide
in the US or province-wide within Canada). A summary of the prevalence of bingo playing
across regions is presented in Table 1. For adolescents, past-year bingo participation among
high school students ranged from 1.5% in Nevada (Volberg, 2002) to 19.8% in Alberta
(Phare et al., 2007). Bingo was found to be slightly less popular among the general adult
population, where participation over the last year ranged from 1.9% in New Zealand
(Ministry of Health, 2006) to 12.9% in Manitoba (Lemaire, MacKay, & Patton, 2008).
Only two surveys reported data on frequency of bingo play for adolescents. In Nevada,
0.1% of adolescents reported playing bingo monthly and none weekly (Volberg, 2002),
while a more recent study in New York State revealed that 2% of students in grades 7 to
12 (ages 12 to 18) played bingo for money 20 or more days in the past year (Rainone &
Gallati, 2007). Data on frequency of play among adolescents are too scarce to determine
if bingo play is an important gambling activity in a younger population. More data was
available on the frequency of bingo play among the general adult population. Monthly
participation in bingo varied considerably from 0.4% in California (Volberg, Nysse-Carris,
& Gerstein, 2006) to 7% in New Brunswick (New Brunswick Department of Health &
Wellness, 2001), while weekly bingo playing ranged across regions from 0.2% (California)
to 4% (New Brunswick) (Volberg 2002; Volberg Bernhard, 2006; Braid & Volberg, 2008;
New Brunswick Department of Health & Wellness, 2001).
Among gamblers only, frequency of bingo play also varies widely across regions. Volberg
and Bernhard (2006) reported that in New Mexico, among the gambling population, 4.3%
of respondents had played bingo in their lifetime but not in the past year, 2.0% were past-
year bingo players, 3.4% were monthly players, and 2.5% were weekly players. Within the
bingo player population in the UK and New Brunswick, prevalence of weekly participation
was 35% and 55%, respectively (Wardle, Sproston, Orford, Erens, Griffiths, Constantine et
al., 2007; New Brunswick Department of Health & Wellness, 2001). Similar results were
reported in a study of 412 UK bingo players by Griffiths and Bingham (2002), who found
that 57% of respondents played once or twice per week, 17% played three times per week,
and 3% played fi ve or more times per week. Finally, in Saskatchewan, the most prevalent
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
Bingo playing and problem gambling 169
Table 1
Past year bingo participation
Region (Study) Population Sample description prevalence
Quebec (Dube et al., 2006) Adolescent 4571 students in public and
private high schools;
French and English
Ontario (Adlaf et al., 2006) Adolescent 6323 students in grades 7–12 8.6%
Alberta (Phare et al., 2007) Adolescent 3915 students in public,
Catholic, and charter
schools in grades 7–12
New York (Rainone & Gallati,
Adolescent 5800 students in public and
private schools in grades
Nevada (Volberg, 2002) Adolescent 1004 residents aged 13–17 1.5%
Quebec (Ladouceur et al., 2005) Adult 8842 adults; sample weighted
by gender and region
Ontario (Wiebe et al., 2006) Adult 3604 adults aged 18 and over;
stratified by gender
Manitoba (Lemaire et al., 2008) Adult 1848 adults aged 19 and over;
stratified by gender and
British Columbia (Braid &
Volberg, 2008)
Adult 3000 adults aged 18 and over;
stratified by gender, age, and
New Brunswick (NB Department
of Health & Wellness, 2001)
Adult 800 adults; two independent
samples for gender split
California (Volberg et al., 2006) Adult 7121 adults aged 18 and over;
stratified by age, gender, and
New Mexico (Volberg &
Bernhard, 2006)
Adult 3007 adults aged 18 and over;
stratified by gender,
ethnicity, and age
New Zealand (Ministry of Health,
Adult 12929 residents aged 15 and
over; weighted to represent
the adult population
Queensland, Australia (Schofield
et al., 2004)
Adult 1029 adults aged 18 and over;
sample representative of
Central Queensland
United Kingdom (Wardle et al.,
Adult 9003 individuals aged 16 and
over; weighted by age,
gender, and region
weekly gambling activities were lottery ticket purchases (34.2%), playing bingo (23.9%),
and playing Sport Select (23.5%) (Wynne, 2002).
In summary, although past-year bingo prevalence appears to be higher among adolescents,
adults are likely playing more frequently. Weekly participation was found to be higher
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
170 Bingo playing and problem gambling
Figure 1. Past-year bingo participation among adolescents in five North American regions,
with age at which one may legally play government-sanctioned forms of bingo.
21 years and over
18 years and over
18 years and over
Under 18 permitted
with adult
Under 18 permitted
with adult
Nevada Ontario Quebec New York Alberta
Past-year bingo participation
among adolescents (%)
among bingo players than for most other games. This finding is consistent with previous
findings that, among people who play bingo, it is their preferred gambling activity (Dixey,
1996). In other words, individuals who include bingo as one of their gambling activities
are likely to spend most of their time playing bingo as opposed to any other game. For
the adult population, frequency of play varies greatly between regions and may be linked
to local availability, hours of operation, and accessibility. For adolescents, differences in
rates of bingo participation may be linked to region-specific age restrictions. For example,
the adolescent data in Table 1 suggest that higher proportions of adolescents play bingo in
jurisdictions where the legal age to play bingo is lower. In Nevada, with the lowest yearly
prevalence rate of 1.5%, individuals under the age of 21 are not permitted to participate
in all regulated forms of gambling, including casinos, bingo, and horse race wagering
(Volberg, 2002). In Ontario and Quebec, where relatively high participation rates were
found (8.6% and 9.7%, respectively), individuals as young as 18 years old are permitted
in bingo halls (Ontario Lotter y and Gaming Corporation, 2007; Soci
e des bingos du
ebec, 2009). In New York State, where prevalence rates are higher than in Quebec and
Ontario (15%), individuals under the age of 18 are permitted to play bingo if accompanied
by an adult (Humphrey, 2005). In Alberta, where the highest bingo participation rate was
found (19.8%) (Phare et al., 2007), small non-association bingo licensees can apply for an
exemption from c urrent policy to allow minors, accompanied by an adult, to play bingo
for small cash prizes not exceeding $50 (Alber ta Gaming and Liquor Commission, 2009).
This apparent inverse-relationship between age restriction and bingo participation among
adolescents is depicted in Figure 1.
Clearly, there is a great deal of variability in the prevalence and frequency of bingo par-
ticipation across regions. Although these differences can be partially attributed to true
differences in gambling participation between regions, it is likely that a substantial portion
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
Bingo playing and problem gambling 171
of this variability is due to unreliable data. Take, for instance, two separate gambling stud-
ies conducted in Ontario in 2001 and 2006 (Kelly et al., 2001; Wiebe, Mun, & Kauffman,
2006). Kelly et al. reported that 9.7% of the Ontario population played bingo whereas
Wiebe, Mun, & Kauffman reported a prevalence of almost half that at 4.8%. It is possible
that this difference is the result of a downward shift in the popularity of bingo between
the years of 2001 and 2006 but it is more likely caused by error variance. Because most
gambling studies are conducted by different sets of researchers in different regions, with
varying methodological approaches, including sampling methods and wording of question-
naire items, they are bound to result in less-than-reliable results. So while the cited data
is useful for gaining rough estimates of bingo participation in Western countries, compar-
isons across regions cannot be made with much confidence. This difficulty in integrating
cross-regional data suggests the need for more uniformity in the methods used to collect
large-scale gambling data.
Player Characteristics
Gender. All gambling surveys revealed that women are at least twice as likely to be
involved in bingo playing than men. In a recent California gambling prevalence study,
respondents who played in bingo halls (as opposed to in casinos) during the past year were
significantly more likely to be female (Volberg et al., 2006). Similarly, in Nevada, among
adolescents, girls we re found to be twice as likely as boys to gamble on bingo (Volberg,
2002). The predominance of female bingo players is consistent with previous studies on
bingo (Dixey, 1996; Griffiths & Bingham 2002; Chapple & Nofziger, 2000, King, 1990;
O’Brien Cousins & Witcher, 2004, 2006; Maclure, Smith, Wood, Leblanc, & Cuffaro, 2006).
In a national survey carried out amongst 7,166 bingo players in clubs throughout the UK,
Dixey (1996) reported that the clientele of commercial bingo was overwhelmingly female
(85%). Griffiths and Bingham (2002) found that 86% of respondents in a convenience
sample were women while a telephone survey of regular senior bingo players by O’Brien
Cousins and Witcher (2007) revealed that female players in Alberta outnumbered male
players approximately four to one.
Age. Differences in bingo participation rates across age group vary greatly between
regions. In the UK, bingo participation was found to be approximately 7% across all
age groups among adults (16 to 74 years old) (Wardle et al., 2007). In Canada, age
differences in par ticipation vary considerably across provinces. In a 2001 Ontario study,
18- to 24-year-olds were found to be more than twice as likely to play bingo in the past
year compared to adults over the age of 65 (13.6% vs. 6.5%) (Kelly, Skinner, Wiebe,
Turner, Noonan, & Falkowski-Ham, 2001). In 2005, despite overall bingo participation
decreasing, participation remained highest among the 18- to 24-year-olds (7.6%) (Wiebe,
Mun, & Kauffman, 2006). Similar to Ontario, a higher prevalence of past-year bingo playing
was found among 18- to 24-year-old Manitobans (Lemaire, MacKay, & Patton, 2008). In
Manitoba, however, older adults were more likely to spend more money monthly on bingo
than their younger counterparts (Lemaire et al., 2008). Popularity of bingo amongst youth
is also reported in a New Zealand study of 1,200 individuals (15 to 24 years old) which
revealed that on a monthly basis, bingo, casino gambling, and lotter y playing were the
activities on which gamblers spent the most money compared to other forms of gambling,
with bingo being the primary activity (Clarke & Rossen, 2000). In California, bingo players
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
172 Bingo playing and problem gambling
tended to be older than the general population, with over half (56%) exceeding the a ge of 40
(Volberg et al., 2006). A study of Iowa residents indicated that after lottery play, bingo was
the most popular gambling activity among older adults (65 years and older) (Mok & Hraba,
1991). In addition, within each type of gambling, individuals between 65 and 74 years old
were the least likely to participate with the exception of bingo. Bingo participation was
second highest among 65- to 74-year-olds and highest among 18- to 24-year olds. These
data suggest two things: first, there appears to be a shift as individuals reach old age away
from most forms of gambling and toward a preference for bingo; and second, despite a
general preference among older adults for bingo, past-year participation in bingo is found
to be highest among younger adults (18 to 24 years old) which is likely due to their higher
overall participation rates in gambling.
Ethnicity. Prevalence rates of gambling and problem gambling differ between ethno-
cultural groups (Ellenbogen, Gupta, & Derevensky, 2007; National Research Council,
1999; Raylu & Oei, 2004; Sallaz, 2008). Very few regional surveys have examined cultural
differences among bingo players. However, in New Mexico, Native Americans were found to
be significantly more likely to have gambled in the past year at a casino and to have played
bingo outside a casino, while non-Native Americans were more likely to have gambled
in the past year on horse races, sports, and private games (Rainone & Gallati, 2007).
Similarly, a regional analysis revealed that compared to Winnipeg and Western Canada,
more gamblers in Northern Manitoba—a region where First Nations people comprise 62%
of the population (Hallett, Thornton, Stevens, & Stewart, 2006)—reported playing bingo
at least once during the past year (Lemaire, MacKay, & Patton, 2008). Although data is
scarce regarding ethnicity, it appears that bingo participation is particularly high among
First Nations/ Native Americans.
Socioeconomic status. Socioeconomic factors such as employment, education, and in-
come have been shown to significantly impact gambling patterns and gambling expenditures
(Layton & Worthington, 1999). In Dixey’s UK studies (1987, 1996), bingo was found to be
especially popular among working class women. In fact, according to the work of Downes
et al. (1976), bingo in the UK was a game played exclusively among the working class
rather than a game played exclusively among females. However, this trend appears to have
changed since bingo has expanded in popularity in Western countries. In fact, Griffiths and
Bingham (2002) found that 30% of the younger age group (18 to 45 years old), and 15%
of the older group (over 46 years old), were in “white collar” occupations. With respect to
education, a positive relationship was found between level of education and bingo playing
in the UK, where more educated individuals tended to be more likely to participate in
bingo compared to those with lower levels of education (Wardle et al., 2007). However, in
Canada, with respect to educational attainment and bingo playing, both the Ontario and
British Columbian studies reported an inverse relationship, such that bingo participation
decreased among individuals with higher education (Braid & Volberg, 2008; Wiebe et al.,
2006). These contrasting findings between the UK and Canada are difficult to interpret at
the moment considering the limited available data.
Four surveys conducted in Ontario, New Brunswick, British Columbia, and the UK
have looked at participation rates in bingo and income (Braid & Volberg, 2008; Wardle
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
Bingo playing and problem gambling 173
et al., 2007; New Brunswick Department of Health & Wellness, 2001; Wiebe et al., 2006).
Each Canadian study repor ts that bingo participation is significantly higher among lower
annual income residents ($20,000-$30,000) compared to individuals having higher income
$100,000). Similarly, in the UK, past-year participation in bingo was signifi-
cantly higher among the lowest income households (9%) than the highest income households
Health status. In the UK, bingo prevalence was highest among individuals who reported
fair health (11%) and lowest among those who reported good or very good health (7%)
and those with bad or very bad health (8%). Survey respondents with a longstanding
illness did not engage in any one particular activity more often than respondents with no
longstanding illnesses, with the exception of bingo (Wardle et al., 2007).This relationship
may be c onfounded by age, as older individuals tend to be less healthy. However, O’Brien
Cousins and Witcher (2007) found that among individuals aged over 65, more bingo players
reported physical health limitations that would prevent them from participating in physical
activities compared to non-players. Additionally, sedentary living was the only significant
predictive lifestyle pattern for seniors engaged in bingo.
In summary, bingo players are predominantly female and the game remains one that is
primarily popular among individuals living in households with low relative incomes. In
regards to age, it seems that adolescents and young adults have the highest participation
rates. At the same time, bingo appears to be a favoured gambling activity among elderly
people. The relation between bingo playing and ethnicity merits further attention. High
rates of bingo playing in First Nations communities may be due to the greater abundance
of bingo halls and gambling facilities, as well as their widespread social acceptance in
these communities. However, the relationship between ethnicity and bingo play is perhaps
better explained in terms of the socio-economic conditions affecting certain cultures and
communities, since bingo players tend to have less income than non-bingo players. Finally,
having a physical health limitation seems to be associated with bingo playing. Based on
these data, it seems that bingo players are more likely to be female, living in a working
class or lower-income household, and either a senior or young adult.
Bingo Play and Problem Gambling
Problem gambling is characterized by continued gambling despite harmful negative con-
sequences such as disrupted interpersonal relationships, emotional distress, and financial
problems (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). A recent estimate of past-year gam-
bling problems in the UK indicated that 0.6% of the adult population fit the clinical definition
of a problem gambler (Wardle et al., 2007).
The association between bingo play and problem gambling has received little attention from
researchers. In early studies, there were few accounts of researchers being concerned about
excessive gambling or other potential negative consequences attached to bingo play. For
example, according to Dixey (1996), “there is no reason to suggest that there are any more
‘problem’ bingo players than there are problem horse race bettors or problem drinkers”
(p.149). In contrast, King (1990) identified several statements made by bingo players
in which they expressed fears of showing self-interest in the game, losing self-control,
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
174 Bingo playing and problem gambling
becoming addicted, and committing the “sins” of gambling. In their study of the social
construction of bingo players and bingo playing, Chapple and Nofziger (2000) reported
that the occasional drinking, chain smoking, and participation in other gambling activities
by bingo players may be considered “acts of deviance. As well, they observed that some
players reported feeling distress with their bingo playing as it takes time away from family
and home responsibilities. In their study of bingo playing in the UK, Griffiths and Bingham
(2002) noted that some bingo players spent an inordinately large amount of money on bingo
(9% of players spending £30 or more per session). However, as they explained, money spent
is not, by itself, an indication of excessive gambling. In their ethnographic study of seniors
playing bingo, O’Brien Cousins and Witcher (2004) reported that although none of the
eight players they interviewed qualified for pathological gambling according to DSM-IV-
TR criteria (American Psychiatric Association, 2000), one woman was possibly gambling
“on the edge” and concerned about her debts as a result of excessive bingo play. In their
ethnographic study of women’s involvement in bingo, Maclure et al. (2006) considered
imprudent the actions of some players who overspent or admitted to jeopardizing their
relations with close family members. Additionally, women with family responsibilities and
those in a low-income situation reported feelings of stress and guilt over the amount of
time and money devoted to bingo. Examination of previous studies suggests that although
bingo is a harmless pastime for the majority of individuals, there is evidence of signs of
at-risk gambling among some regular bingo players. However, little is known about the
prevalence of problem gambling among regular bingo players or about the specific risk
factors associated with bingo play.
Data from regional surveys on gambling and problem gambling suggest that problem
gambling among bingo players may be more prevalent than previously thought. In British
Columbia, it is estimated that 16.1% of past year bingo gamblers are moderate problem or
severe problem gamblers. This proportion is significantly higher than the estimated problem
gambling rate among all British Columbians (4.6%) and among all past year gamblers
(6.3%) (Braid & Volberg, 2008). In Manitoba, in a sample of 5,096 individuals, 10.4% of
non-problem gamblers, 22.5% of low-risk gamblers, 23.8% of moderate-risk gamblers, and
30.8% of problem gamblers had played bingo in the past year. In Saskatchewan, the greatest
difference in past-year participation rates between problem and non-problem gamblers was
found for VLTs (78.3% and 14.8%, respectively), instant win tickets (78.3% vs. 27.7%),
bingo (47.8% vs. 7.5%), and slots (47.8% vs. 19.5%). Also, problem gamblers were found
to be more likely than non-problem gamblers to spend more each month on bingo (median
monthly expenditures of $160 and $15.50, respectively). Similarly, moderate-risk gamblers
spent twice as much money on bingo compared to non-problem gamblers ($32.50 vs.
$15.50); however, the expenditure differences between low-risk and non-problem gamblers
were less pronounced ($20.00 vs. $15.50) (Wynne, 2002). In New Brunswick, over the past
year, regular gamblers were significantly more likely than casual gamblers to have played
bingo (18% vs. 8%) (New Brunswick Department of Health & Wellness, 2001). In Ontario,
severe problem gamblers reportedly spent 10.2 hours per month on bingo, whereas the
mean for all gamblers playing bingo was 2.5 hours (Wiebe et al., 2006).
In California, the lifetime prevalence rate of pathological gambling was found to be 200%
higher among bingo gamblers than among gamblers of the general population (Volberg
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
Bingo playing and problem gambling 175
et al., 2006), while in New Mexico, problem gamblers were more likely to have played
bingo in the last year (23.3%) when compared with at-risk gamblers (7.1%), and non-
problem gamblers (6.0%) (Volberg & Bernhard, 2006). In the UK, while 3.1% of past-year
gamblers playing bingo qualified as problem gamblers, 5.0% of those who had played
in the past week were identified as problem gamblers (Wardle et al., 2007). Finally, in a
comparative study of older and younger adults in New Zealand, preferences for electronic
gaming machines (EGMs) and bingo were related to problem gambling scores for both
age groups (Clarke, 2008). Judging from the available data there remains little doubt that
problem gamblers tend to gamble more often on most for ms of gambling, with bingo being
no exception. Not surprisingly, problem gamblers seem to wager more money and spend
more time per bingo session than non-problem gamblers.
Further understanding of the association between bingo playing and problem gambling can
be gained from descriptions by gamblers of the activities they judge to be problematic. In
a study of gamblers in Ontario, over half of the respondents (51.5%) indicated that there
were specific games related to their difficulties, with almost one-third (30.4%) identify-
ing bingo as a particularly problematic gambling activity (Wiebe et al., 2006). In New
Brunswick, for adults who live with or know of someone with a gambling problem, bingo
is seen as playing a greater role in problem gambling compared to lottery or casino games
(New Brunswick Department of Health & Wellness, 2001). In Queensland, Australia, the
main source of gambling problems were reported as EGMs (67%), horse racing (18%),
and a combination of horse racing, bingo, EGM, and scratch tickets (15 %) (Schofield,
Mummery, Wang, & Dickson, 2004). These findings suggest that from problem gamblers’
perspectives as well as their family and friends, bingo plays a significant role in gambling
Our examination of the link between bingo and problem gambling suggests that, for a dults,
bingo playing is more common among at-risk and problem gamblers than non-problem
gamblers. It is unclear, however, if bingo plays a role in the initial development of gambling
problems or if it only contributes to the maintenance of these problems. It may be that
involvement in bingo may put someone at increased risk of developing a gambling problem
or that individuals with existing gambling problems are more likely to seek out bingo
compared to non-problem gamblers.
One aspect of bingo that might contribute to increased problems is the scheduling of bingo
events. These events nor mally occur in regular intervals (e.g., weekly or daily) which en-
courage regular involvement. Unlike lottery draws, bingo events feature multiple games
in succession, requiring gambling for longer periods of time, and players must be phys-
ically present as each game unfolds, thus increasing player involvement in the activity.
As well, the availability of food and opportunities to socialize facilitate player attach-
ment to bingo. Nevertheless, interpretations of the association between bingo play and
problem gambling should be made with caution given that problem gamblers are nor-
mally involved in multiple gambling activities. In fact, in some jurisdictions bingo halls
offer other gambling opportunities apart from bingo. Between or before bingo games, it is
common for individuals to play cards, purchase instant-win lottery tickets, or play EGMs
(Chapple & Nofziger). One study showed that a greater percentage of heavy gamblers
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
176 Bingo playing and problem gambling
(spending £30 or more per session) played both the parti-bingo (an instant play game
where players insert a coin in a slot and can win money or sweets) and the fruit ma-
chines (i.e., electronic gaming machines) between the bingo games (Griffiths & Bingham,
Our examination of the literature on bingo suggests that gambling research on bingo,
particularly empirical data, is relatively scarce. Most of the published studies have taken
a sociological or ethnog raphical approach and have used participant observation and in-
terviews to investigate the experience of bingo from the players’ perspectives. A few
studies have examined the question of whether or not there are risks associated with reg-
ular bingo participation. Our review of published studies and of data contained in general
gambling prevalence surveys supports the idea put forward that bingo, like other gam-
bling activities, has the potential to either be a harmless form of entertainment or a risky
behaviour with addictive properties and damaging consequences (Chapple & Nofziger,
2000; Maclure et al., 2006). However, the specific risk factors associated with bingo play,
the elements of bingo that make it particularly addictive for some, as well as the char-
acteristics of players who experience problems with bingo remain to be investigated in
One of the important findings in our review is the relatively high rate of past-year participa-
tion in bingo among adolescents. Perhaps this finding is not too surprising given the public
perception of bingo. Compared to other gambling activities, bingo is generally viewed as a
“soft” form of gambling as evidenced by its pervasiveness in schools, community centres,
and churches as both a fun activity and fundraising venture. These same organizations,
meanwhile, tend to adopt harsher stances regarding other types of gambling such as VLTs.
Because bingo is, by many, perceived as an innocuous form of gambling, adolescents are
likely to have increased exposure to it and adopt a more accepting attitude toward bingo.
Such attitudes among adolescents are reinforced further by parents who play bingo reg-
ularly and approve of their children’s participation. Past research has shown that parents
who give lottery tickets as gifts to their teenaged children may send them mixed messages
about gambling (Felsher, Derevensky, & Gupta, 2004). T his may be the case to an even
greater extent with bingo, which already constitutes a socially acceptable pastime with little
perceived harm. Clearly, future studies should be directed at understanding the gambling
behaviour of adolescents as it relates to bingo. Finally, as for other forms of gambling, in-
formation about the risks associated with bingo play should be included in youth gambling
prevention activities.
For the adult population, our examination of the demographic characteristics of bingo
players suggests that regular players are more likely to be female, in poor health, and be-
long to at least one of three groups: low-income individuals, seniors, and young adults.
For low-income individuals, Dixey (1996) provides a clear description of the social and
cultural context in which working-class women were engaged in playing bingo in the
1980s. For regular female bingo players, bingo was “an invaluable source of compan-
ionship, a refuge which offers excitement, and an opportunity to celebrate ‘traditional’
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
Bingo playing and problem gambling 177
working-class values such as neighbourliness, non-intimate companionship, the right to
entertainment and so on” (p.149). Similarly, for low-income individuals (including the
working class women mentioned in Dixey’s work), playing bingo seems to be a way to
affirm one’s social identity and gain empowerment (Maclure et al. 2006). This intriguing
conceptualization holds potential for future research examining motives for bingo partici-
pation. Empirical studies should test the impact of bingo play on self-concept and related
Bingo participation among seniors is another cause for concern. While researchers have
proposed that the entertainment and socialization opportunities may have a therapeu-
tic value for seniors who are lonely or bored in their everyday lives, problems may
arise. As O’Brien Cousins and Witcher (2004) explained, seniors are at a point of
their life where “widowhood, inadequate pension income, isolation from family, and
living in close proximity to other older people who they do not want to spend time
with, lead both single and married older people to want to get out and meet people
by participation in an affordable form of entertainment” (p.144). Factors including re-
duced mobility, health problems, fear of being alone, a nd boredom may explain why
spending time in the bingo halls is impor tant to them. For seniors, the game is sim-
ple and fun, food is often available, and they can meet people and have a feeling of
Low-income individuals and seniors share common ground in terms of their social position
which might contribute to their mutual attraction to bingo. Low-income individuals and
seniors are groups that are more susceptible to feeling excluded from society. Individuals of
lower socio-economic status are limited by their incomes, which restricts their choices for
leisure. Seniors, meanwhile, can often be marginalized by their retirement status, limited in-
come, or impaired health, all factors which may reduce their possibilities for entertainment.
Consequently, to socially-excluded individuals, bingo may be the ultimate refuge for enter-
tainment. The popularity of bingo among seniors and low-income individuals speaks of the
overall organization, structure, and values of society. Geertz (1973) contended that gambling
contexts can be viewed as microcosms that mirror the structure and values of society. The
fact that studies have consistently repor ted that bingo halls have a communal atmosphere and
regular players become attached to their role as bingo players may indicate how poorly sur-
rounded and supported these same individuals are outside the bingo halls. It follows that the
bingo hall may be viewed as a microcosm of society, where bingo players represent individu-
als who are circumstantially limited based on their age, gender, or income, and regular bingo
play is the remedy against social exclusion. Accordingly, variability in social structures
across countries might also be reflected in regional differences in the experiences of bingo
Involvement in bingo may have a therapeutic value for individuals who are in need of
meeting people or adding excitement to a lonely and boring day. However, research has
yet to show whether bingo can have a beneficial effect for regular bingo players and to
what extent their participation impacts the lives of their relatives and friends. Interpersonal
problems may arise if regular attendance at bingo keeps one away from f amily or loved
ones and if household and work responsibilities are neglected. A downward spiral can
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
178 Bingo playing and problem gambling
develop if individuals are using bingo as an escape to avoid responsibilities or to forget
about personal problems. Clearly, individuals who engage in gambling in order to escape
personal problems are at a greater risk of developing a gambling problem. For low-income
individuals, regular bingo participation may lead to even greater financial problems which
may be particularly problematic for seniors who more often live on fixed incomes. Finally,
bingo is a sedentary form of leisure. For individuals who regularly play bingo, especially
seniors, this may lead to a more rapid physical decline, health issues, and a lower quality
of life (O’Brien Cousins & Witcher, 2007). Both the positive and negative effects of bingo
participation on seniors and low-income individuals have yet to be studied extensively.
Similarly, bingo play among young adults is not well understood by gambling researchers.
The popularity of bingo among young adults may be linked to the modernization of the
bingo industry. These changes first came in the UK with the creation of a national game with
larger prizes in the attempt of attracting a younger, more affluent clientele (Dixey, 1996).
With its technological advancements, electronic bingo on the internet may have gained
popularity among a younger g roup of gamblers. Similar to adolescents, young adults may
have been introduced to bingo by family or friends and accompanied their parents to bingo
as part of family activities (Chapple & Nofziger, 2000; Dixey, 1996). In one study, a
young adult bingo player was described as a young mother who was introduced to bingo
by her mother-in law (Chapple & Nofziger, 2000). For this woman, bingo represented the
opportunity to stop daily c hores, leave the house, and socialize with other people. Young
adults who are regular bingo players may share with older bingo players the same difficulties
and worries of life associated with household and personal responsibilities. The notion of
bingo as a form of escape, particularly among young adults experiencing inordinately high
amounts of stress, warrants more rigorous investigation by gambling researchers.
Our review clearly suggests the need for additional research on bingo, particularly a closer
analysis of bingo players who are involved in the game on a regular basis. Research should
focus on understanding the motivations and frequency of play of young adults, as well as
the potential consequences playing bingo has on their daily lives. Furthermore, the relation
between regular bingo play and social exclusion should be investigated. Attention should
also be given to the time and involvement s pent by players at bingo and its impact on their
interpersonal relationships.
These factors could be investigated by examining the behaviour of online bingo players. In
an online study of poker players (Griffiths, Parke, Wood, & Rigbye, 2009), it was suggested
that “online poker may be producing a new type of problem gambler where the main
negative consequence is loss of precious time (rather than loss of money)” (p.88). Loss of
time may be more problematic for individuals who have household responsibilities, and
less problematic for seniors who in fact may be trying to fill their time. Nevertheless, the
traditional view that bingo is uniquely a game of socialization should be reconsidered in
light of this research.
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
Bingo playing and problem gambling 179
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Manuscript history: submitted August 4, 2009; accepted February 4, 2010. This article
was peer-reviewed. All URLs were available at the time of submission.
For correspondence: Jean-Claude Moubarac, M.Sc., International Centre for Youth
Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors; Email:
Contributors: Jean-Claude Moubarac conducted the literature review and wrote the initial
draft of the paper. Will Shead assisted with the revised draft, making significant changes
to the paper. Jeffrey Derevensky contributed with final comments and additional revisions
to the paper.
Competing interests: None declared
Funding: This research was funded by the International Centre for Youth Gambling
Problems and High-Risk Behaviors.
Ethics approval: Not required.
Jean-Claude Moubarac is a PhD candidate in the Department of P ublic Health at the
e de Montr
eal where he is studying the contextual factors associated with sugar
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
184 Bingo playing and problem gambling
consumption. He completed an MSc in Anthropology at the Universit
e de Montr
eal. His
research interests include socio-cultural studies in public health related to gambling, sugar
consumption, and the concept of ethnicity. He is currently employed as the coordinator of
the Reseau qu
ecois de recherch
e sur le suicide and continues to collaborate on projects
with the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High Risk Behaviors at
McGill University in Montreal where he worked for two years.
Dr. N. Will Shead is a post-doctoral fellow at the International Centre for Youth Gambling
Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University in Montreal, QC. He completed
a PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Calgary. His work has been published in
a variety of gambling and psychology-based academic jour nals. His research interests
include cognitive mechanisms underlying problem gambling, affect-regulation
expectancies and motives related to gambling, internet gambling, sports betting, and poker
Dr Jeffrey L. Derevensky is Professor and Director of Clinical Training, School/Applied
Child Psychology, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Professor,
Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. He is a clinical consultant to numerous
hospitals, school boards, government agencies, and corporations. Dr. Derevensky has
published widely in the field of youth gambling, is associate editor of the Journal of
Gambling Studies, and is on the editorial board of several journals. He is co-director of
McGill University’s International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk
Journal of Gambling Issues: Issue 24, July 2010
... Bingo is an anomalous and often denigrated form of gambling (Downs, 2009;O'Brien Cousins & Witcher, 2004), played by a minority of gamblers who are disproportionately women, older, working class and Indigenous (Moubarac et al., 2010). As such, it provides a counterpoint to more widespread forms of gambling and researchers have argued that bingo's failure to sit neatly within conventional scholarly categorisations of and theories about gambling forces us to re-examine dominant explanations of gambling (Bedford, 2019). ...
... While forms of bingo have been played for hundreds of years (Downs, 2007;Moubarac et al., 2010), it is only since the early 1980s that bingo has received serious scholarly attention. That attention began in the United Kingdom with a seminal study by leisure researchers Rachel Dixey and Margaret Talbot, who chose bingo as "the only activity which working class women do, outside the home, in any great numbers" (1982, p. 11). ...
... In the decade from 2010, there were more academic articles about bingo than the previous thirty years combined: it is beyond the scope of this work to establish why. One was the first systematic review of academic literature on bingo (Moubarac et al., 2010). Jean-Claude Moubarac, N. Will Shead, and Jeffrey Derevensky noted that the ethnographic bingo studies of the 2000s had departed from earlier work by highlighting the risks and impacts of problem gambling but that little was known about its prevalence or character. ...
Bingo is a distinct, enduring but understudied form of gambling. It provides comfort and pleasure to many of its players while also causing harm to some. While traditionally seen as low harm, it is being reshaped by technological and regulatory change. Despite this, there is no recent overview of the literature on bingo. This narrative review seeks to fill this gap by exploring the development of literature on bingo since the 1980s, first providing a chronological overview of writing on bingo and then a brief account of major themes in the literature. The literature reviewed was primarily identified through searches of academic databases using search terms such as betting, bingo, electronic and gambling. We find that bingo research makes a number of important contributions: it allows better understanding of groups of overlooked gamblers, corrects biases in gambling literature, highlights the importance of social and structural factors in understanding gambling and employs methodological approaches that are congruent with the people and practices being studied. Additionally, it provides new perspectives on gambling in terms of skill, affect, harm and control and offers a distinct viewpoint to analyse gambling and other phenomena.
... The experience of bingo playing and the complex effects of bingo on players, including its benefits and harms, are not well documented: nor are the commonalities, differences and links between bingo and other forms of gambling (Wardle, 2016). As a consequence, gambling harm experienced by bingo players is also poorly understood and there is little evidence about effective policy and interventions to address gambling harm experienced by bingo players, or, indeed, to strengthen possible positive impacts of bingo playing (Wardle, 2016, Moubarac et al., 2010. ...
... Downs argued that bingo and related games date back to the 1600s (2010); some researchers said that it appears to have started from a Genoese lottery game in Italy (Moubarac et al., 2010) and spread by service men to the United Kingdom in the late nineteenth century, possibly from Malta (Downs, 2007). Downs stated that by 1890 bingo was being used by British soldiers to raise mess funds, and it went on to become a popular activity among soldiers during the First World War; after the war it then spread in the UK to the wider population through travelling fairs and seaside arcades (Downs, 2007). ...
... Indicating its success, by 2007, when numbers were seemingly significantly lower than between 1950 and 1975, 10 per cent of the English population played bingo (Downs, 2010). Bingo became a popular fundraising activity (Moubarac et al., 2010), in some jurisdictions giving it what Bedford calls a 'charitable alibi ' (2015). Interestingly, moral panic about bingo varies widely: in many places bingo is seen as a form of gambling 'untainted by labels of deviance' (Chapple and Nofziger, 2000); in contrast, in Canada, Indigenous women have been frequently denigrated as irresponsible, neglectful and disreputable 'bingo addicts' (Fiske, 2015). ...
... Selon la dernière étude de prévalence auprès de la population québécoise adulte, le bingo trouve 6,5 % d'adeptes parmi les joueurs, se situant ainsi dans les activités de jeu les plus choisiesavec la loterie (92,6 % des joueurs), les machines à sous (14,4 %), les appareils de loterie vidéo (ALV; 6,5 %) et le poker (6,3 %; Kairouz & Nadeau, 2014). Le bingo est un jeu basé uniquement sur la chance, dans lequel les joueurs marquent les numéros, tirés au hasard d'un boulier, sur leurs cartes achetées qui comportent des numéros disposés en colonnes et rangées (Moubarac et al., 2010). Le but de ce jeu consiste à être le premier à obtenir une forme spécifique et définie (p. ...
... ex., une croix ou une rangée), et ainsi gagner le lot. Les principaux adeptes du bingo se retrouvent chez les femmes (Chapple & Nofziger, 2000;Marshall & Wynne, 2003;Moubarac et al., 2010;O'Brien Cousins & Witcher, 2004). De plus, les personnes avec un faible revenu socio-économique jouent davantage au bingo, tout comme les jeunes adultes et les personnes âgées (Moubarac et al., 2010). ...
... Les principaux adeptes du bingo se retrouvent chez les femmes (Chapple & Nofziger, 2000;Marshall & Wynne, 2003;Moubarac et al., 2010;O'Brien Cousins & Witcher, 2004). De plus, les personnes avec un faible revenu socio-économique jouent davantage au bingo, tout comme les jeunes adultes et les personnes âgées (Moubarac et al., 2010). Au Québec, en 2002, la majorité des joueurs de bingo étaient âgés de 25 à 64 ans, les 45-64 ans étant surreprésentés compte tenu de leur poids démographique dans la population (Chevalier et al., 2004). ...
La Société des établissements de jeu du Québec, filiale de Loto-Québec, a implanté, à titre pilote, le bingo électronique (appelé Bingo +) en octobre 2018. Il s’agit d’une version du bingo traditionnel qui se joue sur une tablette électronique. Les écrits scientifiques soulèvent l’importance de s’intéresser aux nouvelles offres de jeu, en particulier à leurs effets possibles sur les comportements de jeu. Le Bingo + présente des caractéristiques structurelles – dont l’automatisation – reconnues comme pouvant augmenter les habitudes de jeu. La présente étude vérifie l’évolution des comportements et habitudes de jeu des joueurs de bingo à la suite de l’implantation du Bingo +, sur les plans de la dépense en argent, du temps de jeu, des limites de jeu fixées par les joueurs, de la consommation d’alcool et du jeu d’argent pathologique. Les participants, répartis en joueurs de Bingo + (n = 87) et de bingo traditionnel (n = 207), ont été interrogés par des entrevues téléphoniques semi-structurées aux mesures préimplantation et postimplantation après neuf mois. Les résultats ont indiqué que les habitudes de jeu des participants qui utilisaient la tablette électronique changeaient peu, alors que celles des participants au bingo traditionnel tendaient à se réduire. La discussion porte sur l’impact d’une nouvelle modalité de jeu en salle de bingo sur les comportements de jeu des joueurs, en considérant l’ambiance de jeu et l’adaptation face au produit innové. Nous formulons en conclusion des recommandations visant une meilleure compréhension de l’expérience face à un jeu automatisé.Abstract The Société des établissements de jeu du Québec, a subsidiary of Loto-Québec, implemented electronic bingo (called Bingo +) on a pilot basis in October 2018. It is a version of traditional bingo that is played on an electronic tablet. The literature raises the importance of taking an interest in new gaming offers, among others, for the effects on gambling behavior. Bingo + has structural characteristics that have been identified as being able to increase gambling habits, including automation. This study verifies the evolution of the behavior and playing habits of bingo players, following the implementation of Bingo +, in terms of money spent, playing time, limits set by the players, alcohol consumption and pathological gambling. The participants, divided into Bingo + (n = 87) and traditional bingo (n = 207) players, were interviewed by semi-structured telephone interviews in pre-implantation and postimplantation of nine months. The results indicate that the playing habits of participants who use the electronic tablet change little, while those of traditional bingo participants tend to reduce. The discussion focuses on the impact of a new modality of play in bingo halls on players’ playing behaviors considering the playing atmosphere and the adaptation to the innovated product. Recommendations for a better understanding of the experience with an automated game close the article.
... 5 Now, however, bingo is being transformed by regulatory, commercial and technological forces, becoming more like its erstwhile competitors. Although bingo was not previously without harm, 8,9 these changes threaten to make it markedly riskier for players and their communities. 6 Bingo increasingly includes three characteristics Adams et al. identify as the hallmark of new-style, extractive and more dangerous gambling: (1) large-scale and commercial rather than small and local; 6,10 (2) using electronic and psychological technologies to develop compelling consoles; 11 and (3) part of a global expansion, with new products, practices and processes emerging from global designers and developers. ...
... 23 Livingstone's call for harnessing the expertise of those who have experienced gambling harm has particular pertinence for bingo. Bingo players are disproportionately likely to be women, older or young (rather than middle-aged), Indigenous, working class and in poorer health, 8,24 and arguably less likely to be given access to policy-making processes. ...
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Objectives The aim of this paper is to identify possible regulatory, policy and program measures to address gambling harm to bingo players and their communities, and in doing so extend existing public health approaches to gambling to better include bingo. Study design This was a qualitative case study of three populations in Victoria, Australia where bingo was popular and structural disadvantage common: Indigenous people in the state’s east, Pacific people in the north and older people on low or fixed incomes in the capital, Melbourne. Methods Our study investigated experiences of bingo, including gambling harm and recommendations for change. Data were generated through interviews with 53 bingo players and 13 stakeholders as well as 12 participant observations of bingo sessions. Results Five broad drivers of and influences on harm to bingo players are identified: technological, regulatory and commercial changes eroding bingo’s protective factors; bingo being used to bolster other forms of gambling; promotion of gambling interests over people’s wellbeing; not recognising experiences of different communities and; external structural influences such as racialised poverty. We identify recommendations from bingo players and stakeholders to address harm arising from bingo involving wagering. Based on these recommendations and available evidence, we propose five sets of measures to mitigate against gambling harm to bingo players and their communities, and so extend existing public health approaches to gambling to better encompass bingo. These sets of measures are: safeguarding bingo’s protective features; delinking bingo from the gambling eco-system; dismantling political protection of the gambling industry; tailoring strategies for sub-populations and preventing oppression and abuse. Conclusions In the face of significant regulatory, commercial and technological changes to bingo that risk increasing and intensifying harm, a public health approach to bingo could help mitigate gambling harm.
... Early research on bingo explored why this modest game can become a constant and even compelling part of people's lives [1]. More recently, there is growing academic and policy interest in the prevalence and impacts of gambling harm among bingo players [2]. We report here on a study of bingo playing across three sites in the Australian state of Victoria, drawing on the data to investigate types, causes and contexts of gambling harm to bingo players. ...
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Background Bingo is often understood as a low-harm form of gambling. This view has been challenged by a growing body of literature identifying gambling harm to bingo players in a range of countries. In this study, we aimed to identify which conditions enabled, facilitated, intensified or mitigated gambling harm for bingo players in three populations in Victoria in the context of corporate, technological and regulatory changes. Methods Our qualitative study investigated experiences of bingo-related gambling harm in three populations in Victoria, Australia where bingo was popular and structural disadvantage common: Indigenous people in the east, Pacific people in the state’s north and older people on low or fixed incomes in the capital. Data was generated through interviews with 53 bingo players and 13 stakeholders as well as 12 participant observations of bingo sessions. Results We found that while bingo is overwhelmingly positive for many players, a minority of bingo players and their families experience notable harm. Harm was generated through traditional paper-based bingo games, new technologies such as tablet-based bingo and by the widespread tactic of placing bingo sessions in close proximity to harmful electronic gambling machines. Overall, the risk of harm to bingo players appears to be escalating due to commercial, technological and regulatory changes. Conclusions These changes can be better managed by regulators: reforms are needed to safeguard bingo’s distinct character as a lower-risk form of gambling at a time when it, and its players, are under threat. Significantly, we found that harm to bingo players is intensified by factors external to gambling such as racialised poverty and adverse life events. Strategies that recognise these factors and grapple with gambling harm to bingo players are needed.
... Compared to the Australian population, a substantially higher proportion of participants were female, aged 65 and over, had 10 years or less of schooling, were retired or not employed and not looking for work, lived alone, lived in the lowest socioeconomic areas, had the lowest incomes, and drew their main source of income from welfare payments. (Armstrong and Carroll, 2017: 15) Despite the predominance of older female players, there is considerable variation from place to place, including some participation from young people (whom we observed with older family members) (Moubarac et al., 2010). ...
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Feminist researchers have argued for a focus on ‘everyday gambling’ and domestic spaces as sites of women’s leisure. In this article, we analyse how culture, class and gender shape the consumer practices of migrant women from Pacific Islands countries (Cook Islands and Tonga) who play bingo in regional Australia. This intersectional approach examines the effects of bingo in the everyday lives of these women. We show how migrant women gamblers have a distinctive experience of ‘lifestyle’ that is located within a meaningful symbolic order that values both domestic responsibilities and community relations within extended families, even when distance from the homeland and economic precarity entail social and financial pressures. While much policy research focuses on gambling harms, including the impact of electronic gaming machines or online gambling, here we show how bingo is embedded in social relations that mitigate many of the ongoing financial problems and deeper existential anxieties for those in precarious economic circumstances.
... In accordance with previous studies, high impulsivity (Secades-Villa, Martínez-Loredo, Grande-Gosende, & Fernández-Hermida, 2016) and specific gambling activities, such as bingo and OCGs (Hing, Russell, Tolchard, & Nower, 2016;Moubarac, Shead, & Derevensky, 2010) were associated with higher gambling severity for both genders. As impulsive individuals tend to act without forethought regarding negative consequences, they may be more likely to involve in gambling due to their sensitivity to immediate rewards (Nower, Derevensky, & Gupta, 2004). ...
Gambling has been considered a male pastime with research focused on exploring risk factors for gambling without considering gender differences. Despite gambling has greatly increased among women in recent years, few studies have explored gender differences in adolescent gamblers. This study analyzed gender differences in risk factors and gambling-related patterns. The sample comprised 1756 adolescents aged 14 to 17 years. Chi-square and t-tests were performed to examine differences between male and female gamblers (n = 699). Multiple regressions were conducted to explore predictors of gambling severity by gender. Male gamblers reported more gambling activity within the last year and showed a more severe gambling pattern. Impulsivity, last year prevalence of bingo, and other casino games were associated with higher gambling severity in both genders. Enhancement and coping motives were related to gambling severity only in males, while mixed-mode gambling was related to gambling severity in females. Our findings extend the research on gender differences among adolescent gamblers by showing that gender specific risk factors exist and should be regarded by health providers when designing treatment strategies.
... One peculiarity of the introduction of POD games into Charitable Gaming Centres is that they are being marketed to young people more than other forms of electronic gambling becasue the minimum age to enter the Charitable Gaming Centres is 18 years whereas they must be 19 years old to enter casinos and slots-at-racetracks in the province. This is problematic because of the high participation of young people in Bingo (Moubarac et al. 2010), and because of the high rates of problem gambling among young people (Lussier et al. 2009). ...
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Electronic Bingo games have recently appeared in Ontario Charitable Gaming Centres. Here we summarize the characteristics of this novel form of electronic gambling, and give a detailed characterization of one game. We contend that these games have structural characteristics that make them similar to modern Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) that feature multiline slots games. These features include a fast and continuous gaming experience, with player adjustable win size and reinforcement rate, a high frequency of losses disguised as wins, and highly salient near misses. Some of these games also have bonus rounds and provide players with a list of recent wins. We conclude that provincial and state gaming authorities should be aware that the placement of Bingo EGMs in existing Bingo facilities may increase problem gambling among an already well-established community of Bingo enthusiasts.
One of the key themes that emerged from ‘the Bingo Project’ was the use of online bingo as a means of revenue generation by the third sector. This raises distinct issues in terms of regulation of online gambling. Due to bingo’s importance for some charitable organisations, online bingo has been a focal point of contestation in the process of commercialisation of online gambling. This chapter examines the use of online bingo by third sector organisations in the EU and critically assesses a number of challenges. These challenges relate to the erosion of altruism, the changing nature of bingo as the game moves online and the use of online bingo as a vehicle to cross-sell casino games, slots and ancillary gambling products.
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Video Instant Ticket Vending Machines (V-ITVMs) are a new form of electronic gambling machine currently being introduced to the North American markets of Ontario, Maryland, Missouri and New Mexico. The present paper is intended to raise awareness among regulators, problem gambling researchers, and clinicians about the nature of these games. These V-ITVMs resemble slot machines and present audiovisual content along with the sale of the tickets. We discuss several potentially harmful features of these games, ones which may promote problem gambling behaviour, such as fast continuous play, losses disguised as wins, near misses, deceptive bonus rounds, and a tendency to promote false beliefs among players who are vulnerable to disordered gambling behaviour. Effective programs for problem gambling prevention and treatment should be implemented as vital parts of any initiative to introduce V-ITVMs. © 2015 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. All rights reserved.
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Eds.). (2004). New York: Kluwer (264 pp.), ISBN: 0-306-48585-0 (hardcover). Price (approx.): CAD$ 84.50 or USD$ 56.00. Abstract This collection of specialist papers on the current state of youth gambling research summarises the progress in youth problem gambling research in recent years. Theories on youth problem gambling have evolved to a point where research evidence once perceived as contradictory and subject to debate can be reconciled within a more general theoretical framework. Growing consensus makes possible a synthesis that can inform public policy. Youth gambling is no longer a novelty. More than 20 years have passed since concerns were raised regarding the increased availability of legalised gambling in industrialised democracies. A generation of youth has since grown up in a gambling-friendly environment. Over this period, substantial research evidence on youth gambling has also been accumulated, enabling us to refine theories regarding the genesis, maintenance, and treatment of youth problem gambling.
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This study investigates the social construction of bingo players and bingo playing. Although gambling has largely maintained its deviant reputation, bingo, as a form of gambling, remains untainted by labels of deviance. We undertook a small ethnographic study of bingo playing in a Southwestern town. Because we had very little knowledge of bingo and bingo playing when we entered the field, our original research questions reflected the central concerns of how to play bingo, who plays bingo, and why people begin and continue playing bingo. We found that the bingo world contains a complex web of assumptions and practices surrounding who should win and how to win. Information from our informal interviews suggests that players begin playing and continue playing for the hope of winning and profit and to maintain friendship networks built through playing bingo. Four preliminary domains of analysis emerged from our data: the protocol of bingo playing; and winning; the culture and superstitions of bingo; fun, profit and bingo playing; and hints of deviance among bingo players. Each domain is critical in answering our question: What is bingo?
The prevalence of gambling and problem gambling among adolescents in New Zealand has not been adequately investigated. Prospective studies of current underage gambling may be unreliable, because respondents may fear self-incrimination. In this retrospective study, a non-representative sample of 68 first year psychology students, between the ages of 15 and 24 years, completed a questionnaire which asked them to recall their gambling activities before the age of 20 years, and which included the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS). In adolescence, the entire sample had gambled for money at least once, and 18% regularly. Participants who played housie (bingo), gambled in casinos, or bought Lotto tickets, had the highest spending rates. 13% of the sample was classified as problem gamblers and 5% probable pathological gamblers in adolescence. Activities associated with pathological gambling included scratch tickets, gaming machines and housie. Regular gambling significantly predicted problem gambling scores. The results were compared with findings from a national sample and adolescent samples overseas.
The relationship between age and gambling has received relatively little attention in the social sciences. An aging American population might have a fundamental effect on gambling behavior suggesting that such research is needed. A random telephone survey of 1,011 Iowa residents was conducted. Chronological age was found to be negatively related to gambling behavior in this study. Within this trend, however, people of different ages were also found to be participating in different types of gambling. The general decline in gambling across age categories can be conceptualized as a result of an age decline in experimentation with gambling for self-identity, self-presentation, as well as an historical increase in the social acceptance of gambling. The differential rates of participation in different types of gambling could result from differential needs and resources related to different stages of development and thus age categories.
Clifford Geertz famously argued that careful ethnographic study of a society's games of chance can generate insight into that society's history, structure and culture. Adopting and extending the technique of the `ethnographic revisit', the author compares his own ethnographic data on the organization of casino card games in contemporary South Africa to Geertz's study of the Balinese cockfight. Three differences are delineated regarding the position of gambling as an institutionalized practice within the larger social matrix; the organization of the individual games; and the subjectivities produced through participation in the contests. These differences, it is argued, derive from divergent trajectories of post-colonial `governmentality' in Indonesia and South Africa. The Indonesian state continued a colonial-era ban on gambling. As a result, cockfighting remained embedded in local village life as a vehicle for expressing both traditional status honor and resistance to central authority. In contrast, the South African state reversed colonial prohibition by sanctioning corporate casinos. Social and political dimensions of gambling are here subsumed within an economic framework of action and understanding.