12 March 2021 Posted By : Ross Williams

Guess which legal gambling oversight the GBI wants to shed? Bingo!

On any given night, you can find Carol Smith hanging out and playing bingo at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2681 in Marietta.

The Smyrna resident said she’s there seven nights a week hoping to win a big jackpot. Thursday evening, she was cracking jokes and laughing with some other ladies as they spread out dozens of sheets of bingo cards and arranged their colorful bingo pens.

Bingo is a way of life for Georgians like Smith, but in the eyes of the state, it’s a form of gambling and must be regulated.

Enter House Bill 410, which passed the Georgia House unanimously last week. It aims to shift responsibility for that regulation from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to the secretary of state’s office.

Smith said it makes no difference to her as long as the jackpots don’t go down and she can keep socializing with her friends.

“I love bingo, but I love the people in here so much,” she said. “I’d come here seven days a week before I’d go to any other bingo. It’s not about the money, it’s about the friendships.”

Some lawmakers said they were surprised to learn the GBI handles bingo investigations. It surprised Director Vic Reynolds too when he took the job two years ago.

“I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the only surprise, but one of the surprises that I learned when I became the director were some of the things that the GBI was doing as an agency that I really thought after a little while we should not be doing,” Reynolds said.

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