Is Bingo Gambling?

Whether or not online bingo is considered gambling is something that’s been debated for many years. Some people view it simply as a game, whilst others see it in the same light as roulette or blackjack.

Answering this question isn’t quite so straight forward as it comes with an ‘if’. Technically any game of chance wagered for real money is considered gambling by definition, so if you’re playing bingo with real money, and to win real money, then by its very nature it is gambling.

On the flip side of the coin, if it’s played for fun without money being involved at all – such as at home on a rainy afternoon – then clearly there is no gambling involved and it would be very hard to argue otherwise.

So taking these two examples into account, bingo can be seen as both gambling and not gambling at the same time. The only difference being whether or not you’re playing for real money.

There is, however, also a third option, which muddies the water slightly. What if money is only involved on one side of the game? For example, what if you pay to enter, but it’s at a charity event where the ‘prizes’ are not monetary in nature – and instead have been donated by local businesses. In that scenario it could be argued either way:

  • The Gambling Argument – You’re exchanging money for the opportunity to win prizes which have a value. Therefore whilst your winnings aren’t financial in nature, they have come as a result of risking your own funds and should thus be considered gambling.
  • The Not Gambling Argument – Conversely, let’s consider the same charity event but this time where you are charged an admission fee, after which you’re given tickets to the bingo game as a perk. Technically your tickets are free, so you aren’t risking anyting to be in with the chance of winning a prize. The arguement could be made here that gambling is not involved.

Another example, more relevant to online bingo, are no deposit bonuses. Seeing as you’ve been given the funds to buy the tickets by the bingo site without putting up any of your own money, you aren’t risking anything but still have the opportunity to win a cash prize. Again this could be argued as a shrewd risk-free move, rather than gambling.

So, to summise, if you’re playing for real money. Then yes, bingo is gambling. If you’re not, then no it isn’t. And if it’s somewhere in between… well, that’s up to you to decide.