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Several British bingo players were arrested after an intense police raid on a Portuguese bar. Police officers converged on Yorkshire Tavern located in the resort of Albufeira as they were informed the bar was breaking the stringent gambling laws of the country. However, this sting operation did not take down high level international criminals who are illegally running big money gambling ring. Instead, the police arrested a calm group of bingo players. Undercover officers had staked the bar out for two whole weeks and then initiated the raid after the prizes were handed out. These prizes were not cash but instead were a bar of chocolate and a tin of biscuits. The bar was packed with British players who were on holiday and their ages ranged from 23 all the way to 76. All of these players were taken to the police stations and were questioned for 4 hours.
The landlady of the pub Marianne Pittaway told reporters that they were arrested like a gang of criminals around 11 at night and were not released from police custody until 3am the following morning. Pittaway, a 34 year old mother of one is originally from York is part of the group who were arrested and asked to appear in court in regards to the allegations that the pub failed to submit an application to the government for a bingo license. If any people involved in this case are found guilty they will be forced to pay a fine between £1,300 and £8,500. Pittaway stated that she thought it was only illegal to give away cash prizes without a license.
She believed that because the prizes were not cash it was not an issue. Pittaway also says that they charged about €50 just to cover the costs but the pub did not make any profit from the game – it was just for fun. The pub posted on their Facebook page stating that they do not disagree that bingo is considered to be a form of gambling but Portuguese bars regularly hold raffles without any interference. The pub also stated that some pubs even charge players €10 if they want to participate in a poker game and the prize for those games is sometimes a live pig. Other pubs also advertise these games on the radio and have not been raided by the police.
Despite the controversy, the pub still finds humor in the situation. Another post by the pub on their Facebook page said that there is never a dull moment and players will enjoy free transport to the local police station is included with their bingo games. This almost absurd situation took place on Friday night a few seconds after Gerald Platt, a 74 year old from Bicester, Oxfordshire won a prize. The undercover officers instructed him to write his name on his bingo card. The officers then took the card and put in inside a sealed evidence collection bag. Platt won a tin of biscuits during the game which the police also took for evidence. However, Platt said he managed to hide the bar of chocolate from the police. Officers then arrested every patron in the bar even if they were not playing in the game. The police stated that because the other patrons witnesses a crime and did nothing to prevent it they would have to be arrested as well.
In yet another Facebook post by the Pub stated that Gerald won the first line and was given a bar of chocolate and a tin of biscuits that were taken as evidence and that even those who were playing the game were also arrested – it did not matter if they were participating or not. These patrons were told by police that they watched a crime and now must share the responsibility with those playing the game. The Facebook post also states that if someone won a million euros from the state lottery they would not be arrested and their winnings would not be confiscated but if you win a tin of biscuits you will be arrested, thrown in jail and questioned. In addition to the prizes, police also confiscated the remaining prizes, bingo cards, the bingo machine, pens, speakers and the microphone as evidence.
Iron Mike the bingo bloke here! Happy to share these fun-filled articles with you. Enjoy the action and share your feedback with us.