It should go without saying, but before we get into any other aspects of this question we should make it crystal clear that bingo is gambling, therefore, you cannot buy bingo tickets for anyone under the age of 18.
The rules are a little different when it comes to charity games, but we are talking about proper games here at proper bingo halls or bingo websites.
Maybe you want to take it in turns to pay for a night at the bingo with a friend or two, like doing rounds at the bar; or perhaps it’s a special occasion and a night at the bingo is a treat for a birthday girl or boy – whatever the reason, it’s nice to want to buy bingo tickets for someone else.
But what does the law say about this, and how would it work in practice?
Buying Bingo Tickets for Friends in a Bingo Hall
Well, in practice, this would be as easy as all going in together, choosing the ticket package/s you want, and then telling the person on the desk that you were going to pay for both of you on your card.
No different to buying someone a coffee at Costa (other coffee shops are available) by ordering separately but paying as one.
But would they let you do that?
Actually, they would.
However, the terms and conditions will probably state something along the lines of this, which we have taken from Mecca Bingo’s t’s and c’s:
“Customers entering into any ticket sharing and/or prize money sharing arrangement of any nature, whether formal or informal, do so entirely at their own risk. Mecca Bingo does not accept any liability in the event of disputes arising from such arrangements or any sharing function offered on its products. Mecca Bingo’s only obligation is to pay the stated prize money to the player holding the winning bingo ticket.”
So in effect, you can do whatever you like, but this isn’t a playground and we’re not your parents or your teachers, so don’t come crying to us when you fall out.
Buying Bingo Tickets for Others Online
When it comes to online gambling, the rules are different, because it is much harder for the companies involved to ensure the people playing the game and buying the tickets are of a legal age etc.
Every customer has to be ID checked and then their behaviour is monitored, as you probably already know if you have ever signed up for an online bingo account before.
For this reason, it is impossible to buy tickets for someone else to play bingo online, as you would need to access their account and use your own card to pay for them to do so, and that would be illegal.
All you can really do if you want to gift some bingo to an online player, is give them the money in cash or via bank transfer so that they can deposit it into their accounts themselves.
In this way, the online operator can ensure all their customers are legally allowed to play bingo in the UK, but the person in question is still able to accept your kind gift of some bingo joy.
You can’t be sure they will spend the money on bingo of course, but that’s down to the person you’re buying for.
What the Law Says
Surprisingly, the law leaves this sort of thing to the individual and the gambling companies themselves to sort out.
As an example; a bookmaker might state in their terms that betting by proxy (on behalf of someone else) is not allowed, but there is not much they can do to police it, and it’s not technically illegal.
A bet is technically an agreement between the bettor and the bookie, but if one person makes a bet in cash then gives the betting slip to someone else and they come in the next day to collect on the bet, the bookie isn’t going to remember who placed the initial wager.
It’s a little different with bingo of course, but in general, it’s the same deal.
That said, bingo halls know what goes on between friends at bingo, as it is a shared experience after all, so it’s unlikely to be against their rules.
So it’s allowed, but it’s not their problem if it all blows up in your face.
So you are chuffed to bits you can treat your friends or your Nan next time you are feeling flush, but hold your horses. Just because it is possible to buy bingo tickets for someone else, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should.
Think about it for a moment.
How would you feel if the ticket that you bought and gave to someone else, ended up being the ticket that wins the National Game, for example?
It’s all very well in theory saying you would be thrilled for the person and accept it with good grace, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Think about the days and months after the win, when you are skint a week before payday and your lucky friend has just got back from a holiday, paid for with the money they won from the ticket you bought them.
Would you still be as happy for them then, or would jealousy start to creep in? Would you start resenting the fact that they didn’t share the win with you, or take you on holiday too? After all, they would never have had that ticket if it wasn’t for you.
You need to be 100% sure you could let it go, or have a plan for sharing winnings set out with them beforehand, or whatever would work for you.
It wouldn’t be the first time that ‘the best of friends’ fell out after one reneged on a win share arrangement, or a friendship fell apart through jealousy after a big win.