Bingo backlash: Selkirk seniors back in the game after province shut them down over $5 prize

At many senior residences across the province, playing bingo is the highlight of the week for the people who live there.But for one Selkirk home, their little game of bingo was shut down for nearly a month by the Liquor, Gaming & Cannabis Authority of Manitoba (formerly Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries).An inspector with the LGCA had been at the Woodland Courts home for an unrelated visit and noticed a bingo game being played for a small pot. Since the home did not have a gaming license, the LGCA ordered them to shut the bingo down.This infuriated residents, who said they were playing for pots of around $4-5 most times.“It was devastating, I have to use that word,” resident Sharon Walsh said.  “I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s devastating.”“This is our home, so many of us can’t get out at all times.”

Sharon Walsh

Sharon Walsh“Some of them can’t do many other things, they’re limited in their mobility,” resident Faye Gillespie added. “They look forward to this. Even if they’re dealing with dementia, they always know the numbers.”READ MORE: Better Winnipeg: Seniors centre dials up new opportunities for older adults

Faye Gillespie

Faye Gillespie
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The LGCA said no matter the cost, no licence means no bingo if you’re playing for cash.“We’re certainly not out there looking for these community groups running these small events,” Kristianne Dechant of the Liquor, Gaming & Cannabis Authority of Manitoba said.“When our inspectors see unlicensed activity, it puts them in a situation where they need to bring it up.”Dechant said they rarely get reports of homes playing unlicensed bingo, and they get applications all the time.READ MORE: Know your cannabis limits: New Manitoba campaign launched days away from marijuana legalizationSo a committee of bingo-playing residents at Woodland Courts went to the province to see what they could do. And after a meeting with the several members of the authority Thursday, the licences have been signed and the game is back on.“We are legal to play bingo with our little committee,” Walsh announced to a pleased crowd of residents.Even so, she said the entire process was a little much.“I know you have to have rules, but I do think it was a little over the top,” Walsh said.The LGCA says there was no cost to sign up for the license in this case because the prize is so low and it was considered a low-risk event. Larger-risk events, ones with prizes and a higher cost to participate, would require a fee and reports would need to be filed following any event held.Get daily local headlines and alerts