August 2, 2013

State officials discuss senior bingo



During the question-and-answer portion of the gathering, Brenda Wemette, who has been playing bingo at the complex for 30 years, asked how the club was supposed to get money for prizes if it wasn’t allowed to charge a fee to play. 

Kuczynski responded that perhaps the club could get another organization to kick in money from a petty cash fund or local merchants to donate small prizes. 

“If you played free bingo, and if you were able to obtain your small prize money or small prizes from some other source other than the players paying, that would be certainly in compliance with the free-bingo law,” he said. 

But even if the group were able to field donations, it would still be able to host free bingo only 15 times a year, not weekly, as desired.


Duprey said she didn’t recall whether she had voted for the free bingo statute in 2008, as she has voted for several thousand bills between then and now.

But if she did vote in favor of it, she noted, “I’m sure that I would have thought it was something we were doing to help you.

“We can always amend bills,” she added. “We can always change them.”

Duprey said she will be contacting the chair of the State Assembly Aging Committee to discuss the matter and will also speak to bill drafters to see if something can be done to accommodate groups like this one.

“We want people, particularly as we all age, to be more active and be doing things and being social, and that’s part of why we have invested all this federal and state money we have in these kinds of housing places.”

Still, Duprey noted, while it may be possible to extend the number of days a group can play free bingo each year or allow for players to pay just enough to cover costs, it is unlikely there could be $30 prizes without violating gambling law.

Text Only | Photo Reprints