Should You Share Your Bingo Winnings?

Should You Share Bingo WinningsThis can be a tricky situation, as anyone who has ever won anything significant at the bingo will know.

Bingo players are generally a friendly lot, social and chatty and happy to see regulars as well as new faces at their local bingo clubs, but how far does that friendship go?

Some people go to the bingo with lifelong friends that they see almost every day, for others it’s a good opportunity for a weekly catch up, while some only know each other from bingo in the first place and don’t socialise outside of it.

In all of these situations, the question of whether or not you should share your bingo winnings might crop up, especially if there as been some prior arrangement or talk of sharing in the past.

At the end of the day though, if you win then the money is yours to decide what to do with, right? Even if that means reneging on a previous agreement.

So, should you share your bingo winnings, or are you within your rights to keep it all to yourself? Here’s what I think.

Why Would Someone Share Their Bingo Winnings?

Bingo Players Sharing Winnings

If you mainly play online, you may well be wondering what on earth this prize sharing malarkey is all about. Online bingo is a much ore solitary experience and even if you did want to share a big win, it would be more difficult to do.

However, when people play bingo in person, they often go with friends and treat the experience as a group activity, and sometimes, that includes pooling any winnings too.

Why people play this way is as varied as each group of friends, but some common reasons are:

  • Increasing chances of a win
  • Increase camaraderie
  • Keep things feeling fair
  • Make up for accidents

On the first point, pooling tickets together means that there are more tickets to play with for everyone, so while the prize will be smaller once it is split, the chances of winning something per person improve.

On the second point, it’s more fun playing as a team and all pulling together. Who wants to celebrate alone when you could be celebrating with friends?

The third point helps to smooth out the experience for everyone in the group. It would be a shame if one person in the group won a lot more often than everyone else, as people might come away feeling downhearted. By splitting winnings, things feel fairer.

The last point covers more spontaneous arrangements than longstanding ones. For example, there is a story about a girl who spilled her drink over a friend of a friend’s bingo ticket sheet, soaking it. They swapped tickets, and agreed to split winnings if one of them won. A good job too, because the soggy bingo tickets won.

Do You Have to Share Bingo Winnings?

Do You Have to Share Bingo Winnings

You don’t have to do anything.

If a friend asks if you would like to share winnings but you don’t fancy it, just be honest. Much better that than agreeing to something you don’t want to do and regretting it later.

If you do agree to share though, you should make it clear with everyone else what that would look like.

For example, will you share all winnings, or just prizes or a certain amount? Will you split things equally or will the ticket holder get a larger share? Do you all have to buy the same amount of tickets to keep things fair?

There is a lot to consider.

Some people even draw up their own little contracts! Just simply one sheet of A4 type documents, and as for whether or not they would stand up in front of a judge I don’t know, but it’s a good way to make sure everyone knows what they are agreeing to.

If that feels too pedantic for you though, you can agree the terms on a handshake, but be aware that deep friendships have been destroyed in this way in the past, so you need to trust the other people you play with 100%.

Players who have agreed to share winnings with friends can go back on their word, and it’s doubtful whether the other people could do anything about that, but as you will see below there have been court cases in the UK that have resulted in very different outcomes.

I would say, if you have agreed to share then you should. If you don’t, what does that say about you? Rules and laws aside, who wants to be the person that stabbed their friend in the back for money?

If you think a prize share arrangement has even a small chance of going wrong, then it’s probably best to all play individually.

What if Someone Else Bought Your Tickets?

Bingo GiftThis is where things get really interesting.

If someone buys your bingo tickets for you as a gift, or a treat, or just because they are a good friend and they know you are a bit skint at the moment, should you share any winnings with them?

On the one hand, if you buy a gift for someone then it is technically theirs and you have no claim on it whatsoever. In that case then, you don’t have to share your winnings if you don’t want to.

On the other hand, if someone has been good enough to buy your bingo tickets, it would be pretty miserly not to share with them if you had a big win. You probably wouldn’t be friends for much longer.

Again, it’s probably best to agree on how you would handle the situation before the game begins, because that way you both know where you stand and there won’t be any nasty surprises.

The bottom line though, is that you can do what you want even if the tickets were bought for you – just consider how the other person might feel and how much you value their friendship!

When Bingo Prize Sharing Agreements Go Wrong

Arguing Over Bingo MoneyDespite their best efforts, there have been plenty of examples of friends falling out due to one party not honouring their agreements.

It is easy to agree to split a prize equally when there is no prize to split, but when the reality of a big win comes our way, not everyone is willing to hold up their end of the bargain.

A few famous cases even went to court, which you can read about below.

Friend Wins Her Share of Prize Money After Disagreement Goes to Court

Mecca Bingo Camden
Credit: Anna Champ

In 1997, two friends in Scotland were at their local Mecca Bingo in Drumchapel, Glasgow, when one of them won £108,000.

The pair had an agreement according to one Mrs Robertson, but the lady who won, Mrs Anderson, disagreed.

The two friends fell out, then their husbands also fell out, then the case went to court in a trial that went on for 5 long years.

They eventually found in Mrs Robertson’s favour, and again after Mrs Anderson appealed, but Mrs Robertson said she wouldn’t see a penny of the money due to legal fees and the fact that some of it had already been spent by Mrs Anderson.

So in this case, the verbal agreement was enforceable.

The friendship was over after the whole debacle though – because as Mrs Robertson said, how can you come back from something like that? Friendship is built on trust.

Woman Refuses to Split £100k Bingo Win With Friends

gala bingo hall screenshot
Credit: ElliottBrown/

In 2007, Tania Burnett won £101,211 at Gala Bingo in Plymouth.

Before the game, she had talked with two close friends about splitting anything they won over £10 between all three of them.

However, once the £100k windfall was heading her way, Tania decided that although they had all discussed the idea, nothing had been agreed, and she didn’t want to share the money.

She took her friends for a celebratory curry after the bingo was over, but that was as far as she was prepared to go.

Her two friends decided to take Miss Burnett to court over this, at the taxpayers expense, but ultimately, the judge found that a casual conversation before the game was not legally binding or enforceable, and ruled in Miss Burnett’s favour.

This case was a sorry state of affairs, but it also found that friendly agreements are not legally binding,

The upshot here then, is if you want to strike a friendly agreement with your mates you can, but make sure you trust them, because if they change their mind it’s probably tough luck.