Bingo-A Socially Acceptable Form of Gambling

In many countries gambling is stigmatized especially in puritanical societies. Some people look down on those who gamble and consider gambling to be a ‘sin.’ Despite the stigma gambling remains a popular pastime around the world. Gambling is not a new activity. Ancient societies all had their own gambling games. State lotteries partially removed the stigma of gambling and changed many people’s perceptions about gambling. For some reason one game that has been around since the 15th century appears to have significantly stigma attached to it. That game is bingo.

In the past most people played bingo at live bingo halls or games hosted by churches and charities. In fact many people don’t think of bingo as gambling because of the game’s close association with churches and charities. Constance Chappel, a sociologist at the University of Nebraska said “Although gambling has largely maintained its deviant reputation, Bingo, as a form of gambling, remains untainted by labels of deviance.” Chapple argues that society sees bingo as a socially acceptable form of gambling and has escaped the negative connotations of games played in a casino.

The latest Gambling Prevalence Survey (BGPS) showed that most of those surveyed did not think of the National Lottery or bingo as gambling. Most people in the UK see bingo as primarily as a social activity. Professor Mark Griffiths, a professor of Gambling Studies at Nottingham Trent University, said that the introduction of the National Lottery in the UK has two effects. The lottery made gambling more socially acceptable and removed part of the stigma associated with gambling. It also helped to de-masculinize gambling and encouraged more women to gamble.

Little research has been done on bingo in most gambling studies and most of the research that has been done is sociological. Research done before 2000 showed that the typical bingo player was a working class woman who felt that bingo offered a chance to socialize with friends and provided an enjoyable afternoon or evening out of the house. Before the national smoking ban there was a revival of bingo in the UK. The smoking ban cut attendance at games dramatically. Many players switched to online bingo and some operators reported a 60 to 80% increase in player numbers.

Most of the available evidence suggests that online bingo operators have benefitted from the lack of stigma attached to bingo. On most gambling websites women have been underrepresented but bingo is changing online gambling demographics. More women than ever are gambling online thanks to online bingo.

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