Evolving Understandings of Bingo in Four Decades of Literature: From Eyes Down to New Vistas





Bingo, Gambling, Harm, Regulation, Narrative review


Bingo is a distinct, enduring but understudied form of gambling. It provides comfort and pleasure to many of its players while also causing harm to some. While traditionally seen as low harm, it is being reshaped by technological and regulatory change. Despite this, there is no recent overview of the literature on bingo. This narrative review seeks to fill this gap by exploring the development of literature on bingo since the 1980s, first providing a chronological overview of writing on bingo and then a brief account of major themes in the literature. The literature reviewed was primarily identified through searches of academic databases using search terms such as betting, bingo, electronic and gambling. We find that bingo research makes a number of important contributions: it allows better understanding of groups of overlooked gamblers, corrects biases in gambling literature, highlights the importance of social and structural factors in understanding gambling and employs methodological approaches that are congruent with the people and practices being studied.  Additionally, it provides new perspectives on gambling in terms of skill, affect, harm and control and offers a distinct viewpoint to analyse gambling and other phenomena.

Author Biographies

Kathleen Maltzahn, La Trobe University

Kathleen Maltzahn has recently concluded work as a Research Fellow in Social Work and Social Policy, La Trobe University, and is currently undertaking a Masters of Philosophy in School of Allied Health, Human Services and Sport, La Trobe University. Her recent research has focused on gambling, including bingo, in and with Aboriginal, Pacific and older communities in Victoria, Australia. Her previous professional work, outside the university sector, focused on violence against women.

John Cox, La Trobe University

Dr John Cox is an Honorary Associate with the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University. He is an anthropologist whose work addresses the intersections of financial practices, developmental aspirations and politics. He is currently Lead Research Consultant on a World Bank study of the social dimensions of climate change in the Pacific. 


Sarah MacLean, La Trobe University

Sarah MacLean is an Associate Professor in Social Work and Social Policy, La Trobe University. Her research focuses on alcohol consumption, inhalant use and gambling, all of which can be done legally, but which nonetheless can be detrimental to health and wellbeing. She is interested in developing evidence to support holistic responses for people who experience problems associated with these practices.

Mary Whiteside, La Trobe University

Dr. Mary Whiteside is Adjunct Associate Professor in Social Work and Social Policy, La Trobe University. She has a lengthy history of involvement in research and development in health and community settings, including Australian Aboriginal and international contexts. The focus of her research primarily involves social and emotional well-being and community development, using qualitative and participatory research approaches.

Helen Lee, La Trobe University

Helen Lee is Emerita Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Social Inquiry, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University. Since the 1980s she has conducted research with the people of Tonga, both in their home islands in the Pacific and in the diaspora, particularly in Australia, with a focus on childhood and youth, cultural identity and migration and transnationalism. Her recent research includes an Australian Research Council Linkage Project (2015-19) on the socio-economic status of Pacific Islanders in rural Victoria. 

Academia: https://latrobe.academia.edu/HelenLee





How to Cite

Maltzahn, K., Cox, J., MacLean, S., Whiteside, M., & Lee, H. (2022). Evolving Understandings of Bingo in Four Decades of Literature: From Eyes Down to New Vistas. Critical Gambling Studies, 3(1), 110–120. https://doi.org/10.29173/cgs89



Original Research Articles