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Each state government in Australia has its own laws and regulations with regards to what kinds of organisations can conduct bingo. There are three main categories: commercial bingo, club bingo, and charity bingo. All classes come with their own rules of operation, which can vary widely from state to state.
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Who Can Host Bingo in Australia?
The answer to this question depends entirely on the type of bingo game being proposed. There are different laws and guidelines for different levels of play – e.g. a licensed housie centre will abide by one set of rules, while a not-for-profit game at the local community hall must follow another. These regulations are designed to protect all players at all kinds of bingo venues, by giving operators very clear boundaries to work in regarding house takes, cost of tickets, value of prizes, and so on.
Commercial Bingo Laws
Any person or establishment wishing to run commercial housie games must have a license to operate bingo, as issued by the state gaming regulator. Even though bingo is considered a minor form of gambling, all commercial operators must nevertheless follow the state’s code of conduct for responsible gaming.
The key rules for bingo centre operators relate to the house take – i.e. the percentage of ticket sales the venue can keep to cover costs and turn a profit. This figure varies across the country, with the common rate at around 12.5 per cent. There are also strict guidelines regarding minimum age of admission, the prohibition of charging entry fees, and penalties for failure to comply with state regulations.
Club Bingo Regulations
In most states, any registered club – sports clubs, RSL clubs, social clubs, et cetera – can host bingo games. A permit or license to operate bingo is not usually necessary, although in some cases an application is required beforehand. It is important to formulate and clearly display key info such as conditions of entry, rules for claiming prizes, how disputes will be resolved, and so on, for all players to see.
Each state has its own guidelines for what constitutes a club-based housie game, with a particular focus on capping ticket costs and the value of prizes. In New South Wales, for instance, prizes in a club bingo game are not to exceed $30 in value ($50 for a single bonus prize), with no cash rewards or jackpots allowed.
Charity Housie Rules
Charity bingo and community housie can be played at a variety of venues – from local halls, to sports clubs, and even in conjunction with licensed bingo centres. While these games are often more relaxed in game-play and etiquette compared to commercial bingo calls, they also come with the tightest restrictions regarding player costs, prize values, and how all proceeds are managed. Ticket prices generally cannot exceed $0.05 each (that is, for a single 9×3 grid in 90-ball bingo) and no cash prizes are to be awarded – not even as a bonus or jackpot.
In some states, charity bingo and club housie fall under the same umbrella – so be sure to read up on whether your state or territory gaming authority makes any distinction between club bingo and not-for-profit housie.
Australian Bingo Venues
There are hundreds of clubs, community centres, local halls and other kinds of venues hosting land-based housie games every week in Australia. There’s also a truckload of licensed bingo centres which offer huge cash jackpots several nights a week, and for just a few bucks per session. Click on the links below to find your local Aussie bingo hall.