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Crombie said she has talked to Dipika Damerla, Ontario minister responsible for seniors affairs and a Mississauga MPP, about “closing this loophole” after the complaint about illegal bingo at one of Mississauga’s 11 community centres.
“It’s a social activity. It allows seniors to come together and enjoy a social experience a couple times a week. It’s a very worthwhile activity for them. This is an unintended consequence of the gaming laws. We need to have that addressed.”
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario considers bingo to be a lottery if there’s a fee charged and a cash prize offered, and therefore a licence is needed to play. Otherwise, with no licence, it’s technically illegal.
Crombie said bingo at community centres is not about gambling. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the average take was under $ 100. They certainly play with pennies and nickels and dimes. Nobody is profiting. This is just done for a social activity.”
The mayor said the city bylaw officers enforce the law when there is a complaint made. “To date, we only have had one complaint.”
Crombie said there has not been a crackdown but a letter has been sent to the Mississauga Seniors’ Council to indicate it is not considered legal to play bingo for nickels and dimes. No seniors have been arrested.
Frank Stendardo, president of the Huron Park Italo-Canadian Seniors Club, founded in 2007 as a social group for seniors, said no law is going to prevent him from playing bingo. He said the complaint is affecting about 10,000 seniors in the city. The club plays bingo on Thursday and Friday nights.
“That’s a shame for all the seniors because a lot of them, they come just to have fun. They don’t have much else to do,” she said. “A lot of people cannot wait for 7 o’clock on Thursday night to come to bingo. We are not hurting anybody.”