Illegal Gambling Charges for Bingo Players

Posted on 26th June 2013

A group of 28 British and Irish citizens have been fined in a court in the sunny tourist destination of Albufeira after being charged with illegal gambling. It appears that the Portuguese police were tipped off by locals that a popular bar was hosting a game of bingo for its patrons and quickly swooped in to make arrests in the midst of the bingo action. The bar was packed and the players having a good time until they were all arrested in a movie style fashion.

This dramatic turn of events to a fun bingo game took place last Friday at around 9pm, after punters had packed the popular Yorkshire Tavern in Albufeira to watch a rugby league match and decided to have a dabble in bingo. Every single person at the bar, including those simply watching the rugby and not participating in the non-profit bingo game were arrested and taken to the Albufeira police station! Everyone was interviewed and kept at the station until the early hours of the morning. They were later charged and told that they’d be summoned by the court to await sentencing.

The Portuguese police later released an official statement saying that the foreign holiday makers had been charged with ‘exploitation of illegal gambling, illegal gambling and witnessing illegal gambling’. That’s three ridiculous charges especially since the game involved no money. The law in Portugal states that establishments require a license to host gaming activities like bingo, quizzes etc where there is a monetary transaction taking place. According to the Portuguese authorities the Yorkshire Tavern did not meet the licensing requirements stipulated in the law.

Marianne Pittaway, Yorkshire Tavern owner for 8 years, confirmed that the fines imposed by the Portuguese court ranged from 150€ to 700€ and everyone involved in this case has been given a suspended prison sentence. It appears that all bingo players were fined with 300€ and a 3 month suspended prison sentence, those at the bar but not participating got a 150€ fine plus a 3 month suspended prison sentence, Marianne was fined with 700€ and a 4 month suspended prison sentence and her partner who runs the pub with her was fined 500€ and given a 4 month suspended prison sentence also. Marianne is very distressed as she expected to have the punishment apply to her and not her customers. She expressed her disappointment with the Portuguese authorities and labelled the actions of the local police as ridiculous and heavy handed, especially since most of the Yorkshire Tavern customers that evening were OAPs. Marianne claims that the only cash that exchanged hands was a one off 1€ per person to pay for the prizes on offer, which included biscuits, drinks and English breakfasts. She adamantly rejects the suggestion that she was making a profit of any sort with the bingo games.

This action is not the first and will most certainly not be the last according to Portuguese sources. The police are likely to continue clamping down on such games in the Portugal holiday resorts. The question now is how will this affect tourism in the area given that you could be arrested simply by being present when someone is doing something considered illegal like playing bingo? What image is this giving Portugal?

By: Bingo Power

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