Is Bingo a Form of Gambling?


Legally, bingo has been given the classification of gambling. However, this does not mean playing bingo in social settings is illegal. In fact, whether bingo is considered permissible depends on the specific state laws. In most cases, a game of bingo in a social setting is legal, but in certain states, online bingo games are illegal. Before playing, make sure the game aligns with state and local laws.

Bingo Is a Form of Social Gambling

Most states consider bingo a form of gambling in a social setting, especially when players receive a cash prize or engage in monetary exchanges. However, despite the exchange of money, bingo is often a legal activity at the state level. This is why you will frequently see bingo games offered to the elderly in bingo halls or competitions in college cafeterias.

It’s important to note that federal laws take precedence over state laws, and the federal government considers wire communications illegal when it applies to gambling. If your game occurs in this manner, the activity becomes unlawful, even if your state considers bingo an acceptable game. Additionally, each bingo game could have different rules depending on the local ordinances and guidelines.

How the Wire Act Affects Bingo

The United States Department of Justice modified the Wire Act in 2011 to allow state governments to determine the legal means of gambling. While the federal government considers bingo to be a form of gambling, each state has the option to make it legal or criminalize it. The local government can even change the ability to play the game based on their local gambling laws.

The Legality of Online Bingo

Before playing bingo, or any casino games, online, it’s important to note that there’s always a chance for the activity to become illegal. Therefore, you must understand your state’s laws regarding online gambling games. In ten states, online bingo is illegal. These states include Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Do You Need Help With a Gambling Problem?

If you or a loved one is struggling with a gambling disorder, you can seek help today. Our licensed professionals can provide facts on problem gambling so that you can understand the issue more fully, as well as recommend Gamblers Anonymous online meetings and professional treatment options. Reach out for support and guidance by calling or texting our free 24/7 helpline, 1-800-GAMBLER.


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