Victoria to Modernize Bingo Regulation with Community Input

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The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has announced a comprehensive inquiry into the regulation of bingo, inviting Victorians to help shape a fairer and more modern bingo-playing environment. By working with industry stakeholders and the community, the Commission aims to understand the challenges within the sector and explore ways to improve regulatory and industry practices, ensuring that bingo remains a social, safe, and fair activity.

Commercially run bingo generates significant revenue, with reported earnings of $107 million in FY23, surpassing Keno’s $61 million. Bingo is a popular game among many communities, offering social interaction and the potential for prizes, with a portion of the proceeds designated to fund charities.

Adapting to Modern Bingo

“Recent years have seen the commercial bingo landscape modernize, shifting from traditional paper-based gameplay to electronic enhancements with substantial jackpots,” said Fran Thorn, Chair of the VGCCC. “Given this evolution, it is crucial for us to assess and address issues of fairness, integrity, and the potential for gambling harm, particularly among at-risk groups such as seniors, First Nations communities, women, and lower-income individuals.”

Despite regulatory oversight, the Commission continues to receive reports and allegations of unlicensed operators and potentially fraudulent activities. The inquiry will examine whether current bingo regulations are fit for purpose, the susceptibility of cash-based transactions to criminal activities, and the extent to which profits support community organizations.

Community Participation and Inquiry Focus

“This is an opportunity to understand how bingo works and how it is evolving with technology. We understand the social outlet that bingo provides for many community members. We want to understand the risks, reduce the potential for harm, and put a stop to any behaviors threatening the integrity and fairness of the game,” Thorn added.

The VGCCC is inviting all interested parties, including customers, industry participants, community organizations, and concerned citizens, to participate in the inquiry and contribute to shaping the future of Victoria’s gambling landscape. The Commission’s Strategic Inquiries Unit (SIU) will support the inquiry, focusing on understanding risks and emerging issues within the gambling industry and seeking ways to improve practice and regulatory oversight.

Focus Areas of the Bingo Inquiry

The inquiry will concentrate on the bingo sector, particularly in commercial settings and charitable fundraising contexts. Bingo is regulated under the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 (Vic) to ensure community organizations benefit from profits, practices that undermine public trust are eliminated, and bingo center operators act fairly in providing commercial fundraising services.

The inquiry will address several key areas:

  • Understanding the customer experience of playing bingo in fundraising and commercial settings.
  • Examining the role of bingo in fundraising, including the involvement of charities and not-for-profit entities.
  • Investigating the practices of entities and individuals within the bingo industry.
  • Identifying ways to improve regulatory and industry practices.

Why Focus on Bingo?

Bingo is enjoyed by people of all ages and can provide social connections and cognitive benefits such as improved memory and concentration. It is also a significant means for community and charitable fundraising. However, the landscape has changed considerably in recent years, with a shift from paper-based to electronic gameplay and larger jackpots.

The VGCCC has received reports of unlicensed operators and potential fraudulent activities, raising concerns about whether community and charitable organizations are receiving their fair share of profits. This has led to questions about the fairness, integrity, and potential for gambling harm, particularly among vulnerable groups such as seniors, women, people on low incomes, and certain First Nations and migrant communities.

The VGCCC is committed to preserving the integrity of bingo operations and ensuring they remain social, safe, and fair for all Victorians. To participate in the inquiry, the VGCCC will engage with the industry and community through discussion papers, venue visits, surveys, and meetings with interested parties.

Source:

“Keeping bingo social, safe and fair”. VGCCC. June 6, 2024.

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