Older women living the bingo stereotype: “Well, so what? I play bingo. I’m not out drinkin’. I’m not out boozin'”

Abstract

Stigmas about 'little old ladies' in bingo halls highlight a leisure phenomenon that has received very little research. This study explored the meaning and lifestyles of elderly women who play bingo every week. In-depth interviews were conducted with eight women and a nine-person focus group in Edmonton, Alberta. Verbatim transcriptions of each interview facilitated content reduction and story reconstruction using approaches described in Goodall (2000). Narrative summaries included biographical sketches and stories related to: 1) life patterns of bingo participation; 2) reasons to play; 3) life experiences with bingo or other gambling; and 4) implications for active living, health and wellness. After a childhood introduction, bingo activity re-started in mid-life or later as a way to enjoy leisure time by 'being with people' and 'getting out' 'for something to do' Although bingo is a sedentary leisure choice, the game seems harshly judged by society when the players themselves relate compelling reasons to play that relate to enjoyment of their leisure time and the enhancement of their well-being.

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