Council Curbs Pensioners’ ‘Illegal’ £1 Bingo Game

Elderly residents who have been running games of bingo for £1 in a retirement care home have been accused of breaking the law against illegal gambling dens.

OAP home in Redditch

The OAP home councillors referred to as an ‘illegal gambling den’ ©Caters News Agency

The group of up to twenty OAPs at the Harry Taylor House complex in Redditch, near Birmingham, have been warned they must obtain a gambling licence to continue. That’s because the Gambling Act of 2005 dictates you can’t charge people to participate in bingo if it awards cash prizes paid for by the entrance fee.

The group has been running the weekly bingo night for almost 38 years, providing the elderly residents with a regular source of entertainment and a great opportunity to socialise with fellow dwellers. One participant, great-grandmother Maureen Price, 76, a retired catering assistant, claimed the ruling is “stupid, we only play for peanuts.”

It gives us the opportunity to all get-together and keep our minds active. It is just a bit of fun and it’s disappointing that they want to put a stop to it. Maureen Price, Resident at Harry Taylor House

She continued: “The game is played in a communal area so it’s under the warden’s eye. Monday is the £1 bingo day, but Tuesday we play for £1 again but it’s for tea and cake.”

Another resident, Hazel Cooke, 77, said: “There is a real social aspect to the bingo nights which is nice to have, I just hope the event hasn’t been tainted by the council’s decision.”

After being informed by Redditch Council they “may not be conforming to the law”, residents were told they can “still play for fun.” Money raised from their bingo nights has gone towards other events such as outings and a Christmas party.

The Gambling Act 2005 makes it very clear that you cannot charge for participation in the game and that, in turn, the prizes cannot be made up of moneys paid to participate. We have made contact with a number of groups, as well as Harry Taylor House, to explain the situation. Spokesperson, Redditch Council

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