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Eyes down, how to play bingo in a retirement home

23 November 2017

Over the past few weeks we have received a number of enquiries about whether bingo can be played in retirement and care homes.

Here, Commission bingo specialist Peter Rangeley explains the rules that you should follow.

Providing bingo, or other forms of gaming, does not require a licence or permit if it meets the requirements of private gaming.

Private gaming can only occur in a place to which the public does not have access (this means private dwellings, retirement homes or similar). Residential gaming is a form of private gaming, and is permitted without licence or permit provided that:

  • it takes place in a hall of residence, retirement or care home, hostel or similar venue
  • more than half of the participants are residents at that venue.

There cannot be any charge for participation in private gaming. This means that the organiser:

  • cannot make any profit from gaming, irrespective of how they intend to use the profits (profit cannot be made even for charitable purposes)
  • there can be no entrance fee or charge for admission
  • no amounts can be deducted from players’ stakes or from prizes awarded.

A player’s gaming stake is not the same as a charge for participation. While there must be no fees, charges or deductions, participants in private gaming are still able to play with cash stakes, and prizes may be awarded in cash.

Organisers should remember that for games of bingo (and for any other form of ‘equal chance’ gaming such as poker, backgammon, rummy, dominoes, cribbage or mahjong), all of the money that is staked must be returned in prizes to winning participants.

For example, if the bingo players have paid £30 in total, all of that £30 needs to be returned as prizes. It is up to the organiser to decide how that £30 will be divided as prizes.

Note to editors

  1. Advice on non-commercial and private gaming and betting.
  2. More information about how we regulate the gambling industry.
  3. Useful statistics on the gambling industry.

Journalists can contact our press office on 0121 230 6700 or email:

For all media enquiries, please contact the Gambling Commission press office.

Last updated: 11 August 2021

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