Do You Have to be 18 to Play Bingo?

Can Under 18s Play BingoBingo is gambling, hopefully everybody reading this understands that already.

The legal age for gambling in the UK is 18 or older, and any company offering gambling services must ensure that anyone using their services is legally old enough to do so.

So that might leave you wondering what the point in this article is.

Well, smarty pants, this article is being written because actually, when it comes to bingo the answer is not as black and white as you might think.

The rules around bingo as a commercial enterprise – so when a game is being run to make profit for someone – are set in stone just like any other gambling product, but the rules around non-commercial bingo are different, even if there are prizes (including cash) up for grabs.

To understand this properly then, you need to understand what constitutes commercial bingo and what does not, so let’s deal with that first.

The Difference Between Commercial and Non-Commercial Bingo

Commercial vs Non Commercial Bingo

As we know, bingo is played for fun, but the companies running the games are doing it to make money for their businesses.

Then again, there are other occasions where bingo is used for fun or as a bit of an attraction for a business or organisation, but it not the reason why the business or  organisation exists in the first place.

Therein lies the main difference: commercial bingo is run by a company who want to take a cut of the money and make a profit, while non-commercial bingo is not run for profit but for fun, or to raise money charity.

Under the Gambling Act of 2005, bingo is mentioned in a few different categories:

  • Cash Bingo
  • Prize Bingo
  • Pub Bingo
  • Club Bingo
  • Bingo for Good Causes

Cash bingo would be the main example of commercial bingo. Cash prizes are played for, often with the prize amount depending on how many people take part in the game, and these games are played at a regular venue and on a regular basis.

A company running cash games would require a gambling license from the UKGC and under 18s would not be allowed to take part in those games in any way, shape, or form.

Prize bingo can be offered by bingo clubs too, but it is more likely to be found at amusement arcades, family entertainment centres, fairs, holiday camps, and places like that.

The key difference is that the prize must be advertised before the game starts so it is not in any way influenced by how many people play, the whole thing cannot be worth more than £500 (that includes prizes and all tickets sold), and the maximum ticket price is set at 50p.

The prize can still be cash, but it has an upper limit of £50 in certain venues, and £35 in others. Under 18s could take part in these games if they wanted to.

Pub and Club bingo have their own set of rules for the specifics of how much can be spent and won, but the key point in relation to this article, is that under 18s cannot take part in Pub or Club Bingo, and should not be allowed into the room where the game is taking place.

Lastly, we have Bingo for Good Causes, which is when a game is held to raise money for a charity or good cause. There is usually a prize with this sort of game, but its value is limited to £600, and no more than £8 can be charged for admission.

Obviously, no one is allowed to make a personal profit from a Good Causes game of Bingo, but the good cause is allowed to make money from it, and under 18s are allowed to play too.

It is also permittable to play bingo for small sums at home among friends, and under 18s are allowed to take part in these games too.

So… Can Under 18s Play Bingo?

Yes and NoYes, but only under certain circumstance.

They can’t play bingo in a bingo club, pub, or working men’s club under any circumstances, but they can play in a charity game, a private game at home, or in a prize game at a family entertainment centre, holiday camp and places like that.

If you are ever in a situation where you aren’t sure of the rules, the venue you are at will know what the law says, so just ask.

All of these different rules are annoyingly complicated, aren’t they? But for a very good reason.

The idea is to allow under 18s to play bingo when it is mainly for fun, but not when it could constitute gambling, and drawing that line is difficult, hence the complexity of the different rules for different venues and different game types.

Under 18s Working in Bingo Clubs

Under 18s Working in Bingo HallI will end on a slight tangent.

As mentioned already, there is nothing in the law to stop those under the age of 18 entering a bingo club, they just can’t do any gambling while they are in there.

It is usually the club’s own policies that ban minors from entering the premises, and you can understand why they do this – it’s just safer and easier.

That said, 16 and 17 year olds often make for efficient and cheap labour, so some bingo clubs might be tempted to hire someone under 18 to work for them.

However, they would be subject to the same rules as under 18s visiting a bingo club, so they wouldn’t be allowed to provide any sort of gambling services, so no calling, no selling bingo tickets, no handling cash for the slot machines etc.

What they could do, is work in the cafe, or as a cleaner, or something like that. Washing pots, collecting glasses, tidying up or even preparing food are all tasks that an under 18 could do as part of their job in a bingo hall.

In my experience, it’s rare to see anyone this young in a bingo hall though, even though it is technically allowed. I think most operators just don’t want the hassle in case it causes any problems.

If they did decide to hire someone under 18, they would need to set up policies and procedures to ensure that:

  • children and young people are never asked to perform the tasks previously mentioned
  • all staff, including those who are children or young people themselves, are instructed about the laws relating to access to gambling by children and young people.

Nevertheless, according to the law, there’s nothing stopping them.