Baby Bingo: are children’s bingo games really a good idea?

  • 22 Jan 12
  • Written by Deena Chance

altAt Bingo Hideout, we obviously love bingo – but then we’re all consenting adults who are in control of our own finances and know where to turn if we think a problem is developing. However is bingo the right game for a child to play?  Do children have the understanding necessary to understand the difference between bingo for fun and playing bingo to win?  After all many adults don’t seem to understand that concept, certainly when recent press coverage is taken into consideration.

We were therefore surprised to see recent news from Australia which reported that a group of school holiday camps have been using bingo games as entertainment and have been charging for entry. The prize, although not strictly cash, comes in the form of shopping vouchers and opinions on the matter are greatly divided.

Bingo for fun is a pastime that many of us will have played in our youth at the seaside amusement arcades, many places offered cheap bingo games for kids with equally cheap prizes. It was considered little more than a traditional fun game which anybody could enjoy and the same exciting thrill of the Full House win was there, without needing a cash or huge prize incentive. Maths Bingo and Alphabet Bingo are even found in the classroom, showing the format as something that can be used educationally. The problems lie in the buying of tickets and the larger cash or large prize incentives that are offered.

As we know, bingo can in certain circumstances be addictive, like all forms of gambling; and introducing it to young children could be seen as reckless. Even if the prize is a top of the range toy, you can still imagine children badgering their parents for ‘just one more ticket’ and although it may seem harmless, it can be a sign of things to come or even potentially lead to further gambling issues in their future. It could be said that free to play, non-competitive bingo games could be used educationally maybe to help children with maths. However, surely the dangers of gambling and boundaries need to be discussed if games like this are to be used in the name of education. It needs to be remembered at all times that although regarded as ‘soft gambling’, bingo is still gambling nonetheless and promoting it as friendly fun to children without full discussion, is tantamount to irresponsibility. Of course we have no information from the school holiday camp concerned if a talk was given to the children prior to playing the games.

Of course, this could be scare mongering, as already mentioned amusement arcade bingo games are part and parcel of the traditional English seaside holiday. A fun game of bingo after hooking a duck and playing on the penny arcades is a must for many and any of these activities is essentially gambling in albeit in a more primitive form. Perhaps it’s impossible to guard children from everything and with the right guidance and education, they should grow up understanding the perils of a gambling addiction and the difference between enjoyment and obsession. For information on responsible gaming you can visit our special tab that has details of all the organisations that can help.

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