The town of Anniston, Alabama, has a problem in their Bingo halls. A not-so-new law requires certain public spaces prohibit smoking indoors, and operators are taking their last stab at seeking an exemption to the ban, contending they will lose players if implemented and thus the city’s charities will lose money. Bingo purveyors estimate about half of their 1,500 weekly players smoke.
Bingo in Alabama is allowed under charity rules, and has funded baseball teams, Boys and Girls Clubs, after-school tutoring programs, and substance-abuse prevention programs. Supporters of the smoking-ban exemption contend the town’s charities will lose $1.7 million if their players can’t light up at the indoor tables. They look to Minnesota, where a smoking ban in 2008 hurt bingo revenues. But proponents of going smoke free say that is nonsense, as there will likely be new players who attend because the rooms are no longer smoke-filled. In Duncanville, Texas, earlier this year, their city council voted unanimously (7-0) to reject an appeal from bingo hall operators seeking an exemption from that city’s non-smoking rule.
Poker experienced something similar. Long known as a game played in smoky backrooms, poker found much resistance when people began fighting to ban smoking from the game. However, few doubt know that the WSOP or other large poker tournaments could have come into existence had smoking not been banned from the tables. To some extent, the prohibiting smoking was an oft-overlooked ingredient that helped allow the game of poker to boom. Few people balk at the idea now, even smokers, as the fresher air is appreciated by all. Only two poker rooms in Las Vegas still allow smoking, and they do not seem to be overrun with players demanding Arizona Charlie’s-Decatur and Boulder Station try to host a WPT tournament.
But this is bingo, and this is Alabama. Meanwhile the rest of the world asks why not choose online bingo? Whether you demand bingo that can be played in clean air that won’t harm your health, or whether it’s about protecting your right as a free citizen to smoke while you play, when you’re playing online bingo, because you control your own smoking policy, either way you win.