The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has initiated a thorough examination into the oversight of bingo, welcoming input from Victorians to help shape a more equitable and contemporary bingo environment. Through collaboration with industry stakeholders and the public, the Commission aims to identify the sector’s challenges and explore avenues for enhancing regulatory and industry standards, ensuring that bingo remains a socially responsible, safe, and fair activity.

Commercial bingo operations generate substantial revenue, with reported earnings of $107 million in FY23, surpassing those of Keno, which stood at $61 million. Bingo is a beloved pastime among various communities, offering social interaction and the chance to win prizes, with a portion of the proceeds dedicated to supporting charities.

Adjusting to the Modern Bingo Landscape

“Recent years have witnessed significant modernization in the commercial bingo realm, with a shift from traditional paper-based formats to electronic variants featuring substantial jackpots,” noted Fran Thorn, Chair of the VGCCC. “Given this evolution, it’s imperative for us to evaluate issues of fairness, integrity, and the potential for gambling-related harm, particularly among vulnerable groups such as seniors, First Nations communities, women, and those with lower incomes.”

Despite regulatory oversight, the Commission continues to receive reports and allegations of unlicensed operators and potential fraudulent activities within the bingo sector. The inquiry will explore whether current regulations adequately address these concerns, the susceptibility of cash transactions to illicit activities, and the extent to which bingo profits contribute to community organizations.

Engagement of the Community and Inquiry Focus

“We view this as an opportunity to gain insights into how bingo operates and evolves alongside technology. Recognizing the social aspect that bingo offers to many community members, we seek to understand and mitigate risks, ensuring the game’s integrity and fairness,” Thorn emphasized.

The VGCCC invites all interested parties, including patrons, industry participants, community organizations, and concerned citizens, to participate in the inquiry and contribute to shaping Victoria’s gambling landscape. The Commission’s Strategic Inquiries Unit (SIU) will spearhead the inquiry, focusing on understanding risks and emerging issues within the gambling industry and exploring avenues for enhancing practices and regulatory oversight.

Key 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 that community organizations benefit from profits, eliminate practices that undermine public trust, and ensure that bingo center operators act fairly in providing commercial fundraising services.

The inquiry will address several key areas

Understanding the player experience of bingo in fundraising and commercial settings. Examining bingo’s role in fundraising, including the involvement of charities and not-for-profit entities. Investigating the practices of entities and individuals within the bingo industry. Identifying opportunities to enhance regulatory and industry practices. Rationale for Focusing on Bingo Bingo is enjoyed by individuals of all ages and can foster social connections while providing cognitive benefits such as improved memory and concentration. Moreover, it serves as a significant avenue for community and charitable fundraising. However, the bingo landscape has undergone notable changes in recent years, including a transition from paper-based to electronic formats and larger jackpot offerings.

Reports of unlicensed operators and potential fraudulent activities have raised concerns about whether community and charitable organizations are receiving their fair share of bingo profits. This has prompted questions about the fairness, integrity, and potential for gambling-related harm, particularly among vulnerable groups.

The VGCCC is dedicated to upholding the integrity of bingo operations and ensuring they remain socially responsible, safe, and fair for all Victorians. To facilitate participation in the inquiry, the VGCCC will engage with industry and community stakeholders through discussion papers, venue visits, surveys, and meetings with interested parties.