Sunday at exactly 12:00 midnight signaled the end of electronic bingo machines in charity bingo facilities across the state of California. The California Legislature outlawed the slot machines in 2008 but a preliminary injunction permitted operators to continue managing the machines.
In December 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided against the preliminary injunction. That court decision took effect at 12:00 midnight on January 31st, 2010 and the games were stopped. In the state of California, Indian tribes have the privilege to operate slot machines and the state, together with several tribal groups, felt that electronic bingo machines were similar in nature.
Topo Padilla, a member of the California Charity Bingo Association (CCBA) and president of the El Camino High School Boosters Club said that they are not slot machines but electronic bingo machines.
A representative for the Tribal Business Alliance, Doug Elmets, said that the bingo machines are still slot machines and that is why the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Legislature and the attorney general all agreed that the machines needed to be removed.
Last year, in the area of Sacramento alone, the electronic bingo machines produced $5 million for charities, according to the California Charity Bingo Association. Now those charities will have to look for a new source of revenue to fill their budget gap.
Judy Mason, a member of the El Camino High School Booster Club said that they will surely have a hard time now that they do not have the machines to generate additional income. The CCBA had been planning to fight the law banning the bingo machines in federal court later this year.