Drive-In Bingo: A Family Affair

Family bingo at the drive-in may be driven out!

In 1954, a fellow by the name of Weldon Johnson thought up the idea of drive-in bingo: Quite unique. Mr. Johnson was at that time the president of the Carp Fair. Summers in the town of Carp, Ontario, Canada have never been the same since.

Drive-up Charity Bingo is for Families

Summertime Wednesdays at drive-in charity bingo at the Carp Fairgrounds have been a family tradition for 58 years. It’s the community’s place to go during the summer, and the family’s evening out.

The Province of Ontario Stands its Ground

Someone wasn’t happy about the drive-in and anonymously complained to the Alcohol and Gambling Commission of Ontario (AGCO). The complaint involved children playing bingo, and was made after a story appeared in the local newspaper, the Citizen. There’s an age restriction on gambling across the entire province. Gambling includes charitable bingo. The authorities clearly recognize how important the drive-in charitable bingo games are, in terms of both its social significance and charitable necessity. The profits are donated to the Carp Agricultural Society. Nevertheless, the Regulators are not budging. The AGCO has ruled that children are prohibited from touching the daubers and playing the cards. In sum, they are not allowed to play bingo.

Community Reaction

This is the main summer activity for the community of Carp. Parents point out that the children are not involved in the gambling aspect of bingo. The organizers control the cards, and children are not allowed to buy or redeem the cards. Not everyone plays bingo; some people are there to chat with friends and buy a piece of homemade pie. Food and drink are also available. Many children spend their time playing with other kids, adults talk with their friends, and teens chat on the phone or text each other. Drive-in bingo at the Carp Fairgrounds is simply an enjoyable family activity. The AGCO Regulators say they are not killjoys, but it sure does sound like they are unnecessarily and wrongfully shutting down a harmless and enjoyable community tradition.