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The Dangers of Bingo
by: John C. Thorenssen
Let's face it; bingo is hardly going to arouse a thrill-seeker into taking it up in attraction to its high risk stakes. Over sixties, playing bingo in a community hall does not seem to register with the seedy possibilities of a stake-out associated with poker for example. But do not be fooled. There are hazards to the game of bingo and whilst they may be small and hardly worth deterring a player who enjoys the game socially and for fun, it may be interesting to know that there have been concerns over the game.
The UK's National Bingo Game Association recently announced that according to their study, people who have stressful careers tend to be more stressed and worked up when playing bingo than they are when dealing with stressful situations at their work. The result suggests that even people who are capable of dealing in highly stressful situations cannot resist the stress that a highly charged game of bingo can cause. It is the anxiety of being so close to winning that can drive people's excitement higher and higher and therefore their disappointment is greater and greater if they lose. You think that you have just one number left, you must be so close now and it is easy to lose sight of the fact that by this stage there are probably quite a few others in the exact same position as you are.
More worrying than the stress however is the violence that has been associated with bingo. Although rare, cases have occurred and because a high percentage of players tend to be single females, their vulnerability becomes very apparent. Many have pointed to online bingo as the solution but others say the risk is so small, it is hardly worth losing the social aspect of the game and open oneself to the risk of compulsive play on the internet.
A woman who won thousands playing bingo was recently shot in the stomach after refusing to hand money over to her assailants. The 39 year old won almost $6000 near to West Palm Beach. Upon refusing to hand over her money, she was shot through the window of her car. Luckily she survived and was later treated in hospital, but the incident has prompted many to raise their voices over the concerns of gamblers leaving casinos or gambling halls with large amounts of money. Similar incidents have been reported in Europe and in some cases bingo halls (being less protected than the wealthier casinos) have actually been held up.
The chant has been that online gambling is a safer option. Credit card fraud is deemed to be much lower, it is easier to track winnings and there is no risk in carrying large amounts of cash around late at night. You are in the comfort and security of your own home. The problem is that this is very much part of the problem for compulsive gamblers. A bingo game on the internet is very different to a bingo game in a social atmosphere. The object of playing purely for money seems to be exemplified by the fact that one does not even have to check one's own cards. It is automatically scanned by the bingo site. There are few limits, no way of seeing if the player is a minor or intoxicated and the mental and social stimulation are abundantly missing. There is concern that people may be retreating further and further into the comfort and security of the artificiality of a screen in order to avoid the dangers outside.
The Governor of the state of Washington decided that a large threat to the people of that state was the concept of playing bingo too frequently. There is concern that the game is taken too nonchalantly in the debate on compulsive gambling. It is, after all a game that is easy to become addicted to. As bingo becomes more and more popular, the cash prizes have become higher and higher and the variety and options of games are becoming more and more expansive.
At the end of the day however, bingo is still a comparatively low-risk pastime. It can be enjoyable, social and a great way to spend an evening. Perhaps all that is needed is just a remembrance that it is still a form of gambling, whether played in a church hall or a Vegas casino and that although lower in threat, the dangers are still always present.