Bingo! Amendment would finally allow bingo ads

Missouri Constitutional Amendment 4 considers removing a ban on advertising for bingo games. The current rules were deemed unenforceable by a federal judge. Fair Ballot Language reads, “A ‘yes’ vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to remove language limiting bingo game advertising that a court ruled was unconstitutional and not enforceable.” 

This amendment would also reduce the amount of active membership time required for any individual interested in managing bingo games to 6 months. The current requirement for anyone interested in managing a bingo game is two years membership in the participating organization. 

The Fair Ballot Language states, “This amendment would also allow a member of a licensed organization conducting bingo games to participate in the management of bingo games after being a member of the organization for six months. Currently, the constitution requires two years of membership.”

Bingo was illegal in Missouri until 1980. Voters previously rejected making changes to the original amendment’s language about advertising in both 1990 and 2000.

According to the Missouri Secretary of State’s website, “State and local governmental entities estimate no costs or savings from this proposal.” 

The changes proposed to the unenforceable rule don’t seem to have troubled the minds of area bingo enthusiasts. 

A member of Florissant Elks Lodge 2316 said, “Our committee didn’t know much about it right up until today.” The Elks don’t typically take political positions, especially on issues being voted on currently. Lodge 2316 was no exception but if awareness equals passion, the ballot measure is not a very hot issue. The Florissant Elks gather for games on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. 

Philip White is manager at the Omega Center on 3900 Goodfellow Blvd., which hosts a popular game on Thursday nights. He said the center’s activities won’t be impacted, whatever the outcome of the election.  

“It won’t impact us one way or the other,” said White. “People come here because they know it’s a safe, clean, wholesome environment. They aren’t big time gamblers.” 

Asked how his bingo players find out about games, he indicated at least one useful website and said, “We have a marquee that is visible 24 hours a day.” 

White adds that many regular bingo players know each other, making word of mouth the critical method for spreading any news about the games and their locations.

According to white, most players get around and frequent multiple games in the region.

“They travel in the bingo circus,” he said.

A group calling itself Citizens for Bingo claimed $3,900 in cash contributions to support the initiative and slightly more than that figure in actual expenses. No money was reported as having been raised in opposition, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission. 

Rep. Wanda Brown introduced the current amendment last December. In February and May of this year, the Missouri House and Senate approved the bill with overwhelming majorities. 

To learn more about area bingo games, visit www.stlouisbingo.com.

James Walling

Author: James Walling

James Walling is a writer with over 10 years experience managing and editing newspapers in the Pacific Northwest, Prague (CZ), Central Texas, and Northeast Montana. He lives in the O'Fallon Park neighborhood in north St. Louis.

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