State of confusion…is it bingo or is it a slot?

Guest Article:

California’s capital, Sacramento, is finding itself in the middle of a dispute this year about the legality of certain bingo machines. Sacramento’s NBC affiliate KCRA found that many officials in the state and county agree on the illegal nature of these bingo machines that look and feel like slot machines, but are supposedly used for charity fundraising. explains that last year the “bingo” machines in question brought in $42 million for 15 local Sacramento charities, yet even with level of revenue production, a memo from Sacramento Sheriff John McGuinness finds that these bingo slot machines are against the law. While there would seem to be a simple answer to the legality of these slot machines, R.L. Davis, head of the sheriff’s Bingo Compliance Team, goes on to tell KCRA that the legality of these machines becomes more and more confused, because the county has passed an ordinance saying that such bingo-charity games are, in fact, legal. Now no agency in the Sacramento area is willing to enforce the laws against slot machines.

While local government is deciding the future and nature of these bingo games, nearby Indian Casinos have no doubt about the machines’ purpose. As reported by KCRA, spokespeople for Indian casinos in the area strongly disagree that these machines are legal. Agreements between the Governor and the tribes say that slot machines are only legal inside of tribal casinos, causing the tribes to protest these questionable machines. They have even threatened to pull their promise of millions of dollars toward the state’s General Fund due to this violation of their exclusive right to slot machines.

A lawsuit has been filed against the county ordinance that is clouding the legality of these machines, and until a decision is made in that case, law enforcement is resolved to do nothing about these bingo slot machines.


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