|Although the bingo played by seniors in Wal-Mart’s 50 stores across the state of Pennsylvania involves no pay-out (except for small complementary gifts from the store) and no pay-in, just fun, it’s been disallowed in Pennsylvania as the lower house of the legislature has deemed it a gambling activity outside of a proper gaming venue. The state allows race tracks, Atlantic City, other gaming, and relies on $923 million a year it gets for its take on the state lottery. But not free bingo.|
“All these legislators talk the talk about how they're concerned for and work to improve the lives of senior citizens,” said one of their opponents, State Representative Camille `Bud’ George, a Democrat from Clearfield. “Well, the Grinches won today's vote. And Pennsylvania is safe from seniors playing free bingo at Wal-Mart or any other retailer,” he said.
Wal-Mart has conducted free bingo for seniors for years. Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams said the bingo games were actually started by senior citizens themselves. The numbers were sometimes called by a store sales associate, but more often by a senior citizen. “It was a social hour for them. They enjoyed it and we enjoyed it because they're our customers,” Williams said. “The seniors are not happy about it [ending] and we're not happy about it either. It's very unfortunate.”
Reacting to a complaint by one unnamed citizen, the Republican majority in the House axed bingo for seniors at Wal-Marts. The vote was 106 to 92.