Oklahoma has long been synonymous with Bingo. That’s because the Indian tribes of Oklahoma have run Bingo games for generations. Patrons from all of the surrounding states load up in cars and travel into Oklahoma to play Bingo on the weekends. Growing up in a small town just south of the Red River, I knew of a group that would rent a bus to travel to Chocktaw Bingo every Friday night.
The 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatorty Act followed a landmark ruling by The U.S. Supreme Court the year before. Since that time, 23 of the 39 Indian tribes of Oklahoma have opened gaming halls. The Chickasaw were the first Oklahoma Indian tribe to take advantage of the gaming laws, and today run ten casinos of their own. Bingo was the game on which these casinos were founded. Electronic games like slots were not allowed, because they are thought to contribute to gambling addiction more than bingo.
Tulsa, Oklahoma is synonymous with the term Bingo parlour. The charity Bingo sites around that area means you can find a game of bingo any hour of the day. The Oklahoma Charity Games Act, passed in the early nineties, assured that bingo would be a huge moneymaker for the state. The act also covered pulltab or breakopen tickets, but that isn’t our concern here.
In 1993, charity game licensing was (strangely enough) transferred from the Oklahoma Tax Commission to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board, which regulates Bingo games in Oklahoma to this day. There are over 860 non-profit bingo operators in the state now. Most of these are church and veterans organization charities.
In recent years, Oklahoma law has changed to allow for big Indian gaming casinos. You’ll now find Indian casinos with slots, video poker and blackjack tables. Craps and roulette are not legal in the Indian casinos yet, but that is only a matter of time. No one can say what having other games in the bingo houses will do for the popularity of bingo. My guess is bingo will retain its huge popularity, because Bingo has maintained a gambling niche for over eight decades. It’s more than just for grandmas anymore.