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Long Beach : Judge Upholds Bingo Ban

November 06, 1986

A Superior Court judge Tuesday upheld a city ordinance that prohibits the playing of a game known as "break-open bingo."

The ordinance had been challenged by a lawsuit filed in September on behalf of two Long Beach Jewish congregations, the Lubavitch Congregation and Jews for Judaism, and two city Catholic churches that have since dropped out of the suit.

The suit charged that the 1980 ordinance was unconstitutional and was illegally depriving the churches and congregations from "deriving a profit for their charitable institutions."

However, Judge William H. Winston Jr. decided that the city has the authority to decide what kinds of bingo it will permit.

Break-open bingo uses cards that have predetermined winners and losers, much like state lottery rub-off cards. The game may be "easily manipulated and subject to corruption," Deputy City Atty. Bradford L. Andrews said in court papers.

Andrews also argued that the game would be difficult for police to oversee. In remarks made in court Tuesday, Winston agreed, saying, "There's just absolutely no way this could be adequately policed."

John J. Gilligan, a Long Beach lawyer representing the two Jewish congregations that sued the city, said he would appeal the judge's decision.

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