LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – It wasn't even 10:30 in the morning yet at Charity Hall on Dixie Highway. The floor was already carpeted in losing pull tabs as the gambling frenzy got underway. People of all ages were there, but there were no children. House rules.
"It's gambling, so we don't think kids under 18 should be allowed in bingo halls," said the hall operator.
"I don't think they ought to be at bingo," said one player. "My kids don't go no more."
Much later, not far away, as the clock struck midnight, kids of all ages were walking into bingo halls for a very early morning gambling session. Early on, some played games. Some had lots of energy. There were rows of tables with young children. Most sat next to the adults who brought them. Those were house rules at one hall.
But as the hours went by, after 1 or 2 in the morning, many kids couldn't take it any longer. While stacks of cash got doled out and parents played multiple games at once, plus pull tabs, the kids lined up plastic chairs in a row in an attempt to build a bed. Some changed into pajamas. Some came already dressed for a makeshift bed with blankets. All four of the midnight bingo sessions we attended looked the same way.
"They should be in bed," said one player. "I think kids should be home, especially at midnight, they should be in their beds.
"They're laying in chairs, laying on the floors," said another. "I don't think that's right. I think they need to be home where they should be."
In a statement, Kentucky Child Protective Services said taking kids out at midnight to gamble "does not automatically meet criteria for a neglect investigation."
"There is a draw, an allure to gambling that will cause parents to do wrongful things, like take your kids out in the middle of the night," said Kent Ostrander, president of Family Foundation.
Ostrander said it's not abuse, but it's close.
"The thought of parents going gambling in the middle of the night, dragging their kids with them, is just obviously poor parenting," said Ostrander.
The people who run texascharitybingo.com recently posted:
"Taking children along to bingo halls is becoming a popular trend (because the children) exhibit better social behavior (and it gives kids) a better understanding of mathematical concepts."
At 2:45 a.m. in one hall, it didn't appear any children were learning math or the alphabet though some kids were catching Z's. Some kids were even cleaning up after the adults by clearing their food trays and garbage. And as parents and grandparents walked the kids to the car, they didn't see anything wrong with what they were doing.
"He don't go to bed until 6 or 7 o'clock really. He comes out to bingo a lot," said one parent. "Shame they don't have night school for him. He stays up all night."
"She would be up at home anyway," said another. "They like to come."
"They don't complain" said a grandparent. "They're happy because they're going to be out, get to hang with Grandma."
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725 S. Floyd Street
Louisville, KY 40203