Caution - Bingo
May Be Hazardous To Your Health
and Governor of the state of Washington recently passed a law warning
us about the dangers of..
Anthrax on postage
stamps? Guess again.
West Nile Fever? AIDS? Nope.
have decided that the threat facing the citizens of the great
state has always been afraid of too much bingo. Until this year,
most bingo operators were prohibited from even offering the game
more than three times a week.
Of course, the
state law did not apply to the state's many Indian tribes, who operate
wide-open unrestricted bingo halls. The charities objected and demanded
have been faced with the problem of the level playing field before.
Licensed card rooms in the state could offer blackjack to their
patrons, but only with a rotating deal. The house was not allowed
to participate in the game, let alone be the banker. Meanwhile the
tribes in the state had full-scale casinos (although without slot
machines), with regular Nevada-style blackjack.
Four years ago,
the clubs demanded that the state legislature do something -- and
it did. It changed the law, so that licensed card clubs could offer
blackjack with a house bank -- the same casino game being dealt
by tribal casinos.
Now, the Legislature
was faced with the question of why tribes should be able to offer
bingo all the time, while charities were limited to no more than
three times a week.
The easy solution
would have been to simply allow charities to offer bingo games whenever
they wished. But with legal gambling, changing the laws never comes
A backlash had
developed after the card clubs began offering banking blackjack.
Most tribal casinos are far from population centers. Players have
to make a conscious decision that they are going to drive for hours
if they want to play blackjack at an
card clubs are in the center of many of its cities. Almost overnight,
mini-casinos were available in a lot of people's backyards.
It was clear
that the state's charities would have to be allowed to offer bingo
games more often if they were going to survive. But, legislators
needed a way to show that they understood that they were, once again,
voting to expand legal gambling.
was House Bill 2918, which was approved on April 5, 2002, and went
into effect on June 13, 2002. This unusual new law allows charities
to conduct bingo more than three times a week, but only if they
include the following statement in all their advertising:
Participation in gambling activity may result in pathological gambling
behavior causing emotional and financial harm. For help, call 1-800-547-6133."