Queens lawmakers introduce bill to expand bingo games for seniors at Pomonok Senior Center

Photo by Tim Thomas

State Senator Toby Stavisky and Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal joined senior residents on Tuesday for a game of bingo at Queens Community House Pomonok Senior Center this week.

The lawmakers visited the center at 67-09 Kissena Blvd. in Flushing to announce their legislation (S.3917/ S6212) to expand the operation of bingo games for seniors and community centers.

“New York’s restrictions around bingo have been long overdue for a change,” said Rosenthal. “Bingo provides our seniors with an opportunity to build friendships and keeps spirits high. I had a great time joining Senator Stavisky and constituents at Pomonok Senior Center for a few lively rounds. Given the robust diversity of Queens, we look forward to expanding social activities within our community.”

New York has stringent and longstanding laws governing all games of chance with monetary prizes, even of nominal amounts. The current statute limits the number of days community organizations can host bingo games to 15 days per year without a state-issued license. While rarely enforced, many facilities expose themselves to risk by providing games as a form of recreation for the community.

The bill would expand the allowable number of bingo games to twice a week and also cover nonprofit and religious organizations under the provisions.

Ben Thomases, executive director of Queens Community House, said, “Bingo and other games are a great way for our participants to meet their neighbors and build a stronger sense of community.”

(Photo by Tim Thomas)

According to Stavisky, the game of bingo is a recreational and beneficial hobby, especially for older adults.

“The opportunity to socialize breaks cycles of isolation and improves their health and well-being. Seniors come together at community centers and enjoy interaction with others,” Stavisky said. “I was proud to pass this bill in the Senate to provide senior citizens more opportunities to come together.”

The bill recently passed the state Senate with unanimous support and is currently before the Assembly for consideration.