Los Angeles Police Bust Illegal 25-Cent Bingo Game in Senior Community

Posted on: January 10, 2019, 07:59h. 

Last updated on: January 10, 2019, 07:59h.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) shut down an illegal bingo operation inside a retirement community this week after receiving a tip from a resident.

Los Angeles police bingo raid
Operating bingo in Los Angeles without a permit? These guys might soon show up at your door. (Image: Kevork Djansezian/Getty)

Karen Adams told NBC 4 in Los Angeles that she’s been playing bingo at the retirement center in Woodland Hills for eight years. The police’s arrival came as a total surprise.

“They (police) said, ‘You’ve got to close this down. You can go ahead and finish playing today but no more,” Adams explained of the incident.

Bingo is regulated by a city ordinance. Article 4.5 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code mandates that anyone organizing a bingo operation must first obtain a license from the City of Los Angeles. Adams’ bingo center never obtained such licensure.

They can’t play their game until they get their permit and follow the rules,” LAPD Capt. Paul Vernon stated.

The rules are lengthy, as Article 4.5 runs 20 pages long. It states that bingo halls in senior citizen communities can only operate games between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, and no session shall exceed six continuous hours.

The total value of prizes awarded during a bingo game has to be under $500. Adams said each bingo card cost $0.25, and prizes were from the nearby 99-cent store.

While bingo licenses cost the general public and charitable organizations $50, they are free for senior groups.

Police Tipped

Los Angeles police responded to 258 homicides in 2018, more than 2,000 rapes, and over 10,000 robberies. In Woodland Hills alone, dozens of assaults and several arsons have occurred just in the last few weeks.

The LAPD’s most recent crime statistics release didn’t specify just how many illegal bingo halls were raided.

To the police’s credit, the Woodland Hills bingo bust wasn’t exactly a top priority. Vernon said an angered resident reported that bingo games were being conducted without a license, and the department was therefore obligated to investigate.

“There were no bearcats, no tanks, no helmets,” Vernon said with a laugh. “We’re not generally worried about bingo games or any other kind of gambling at senior citizen homes.”

Building management where Adams lives said it has already obtained a bingo permit in the wake of the police incident.

Seniors and Gambling

Older adults, those born in the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers, have a great fondness for gambling. They continue to keep slot machines spinning at casinos across the country.

Once retired to senior communities or assisted living homes, the games go on. From cards to bingo, seniors enjoy testing their luck. The Villages, the largest age-restricted retirement community in the US, has upwards of 10 bingo events each week.

One notorious senior who couldn’t keep her gambling under control was former San Diego Mayor Maureen O’Connor. After her husband Robert Peterson died, the founder of the Jack in the Box fast-food chain, she inherited a fortune worth $50 million. She gambled it all away.