A group of British pensioners have seen their £1 bingo jackpot suspended after they have been accused by a local council of running an illegal gambling playroom. The weekly bingo was organised by residents of the Redditch, Worcestershire-based Harry Taylor House sheltered housing complex.
The elderly people met every Monday night to have a game of bingo with the winner taking the prize money, until they were alleged in violation of the Private Gaming Law by the local authority, which banned their “gambling den”. The pensioners had a Tuesday meeting for tea and cake as well, raising money for events such as their annual Christmas party.
According to the local council, the pensioners’ Monday night £1 jackpot breached gambling laws, so it had to be stopped. The OAPs were told that they could continue having their meetings only in case that they stop wagering any money.
In fact, these gatherings are not new to the residents of the sheltered housing complex. The meetings have been running for almost 40 years providing the pensioners living in the Harry Taylor House with the chance to socialize and entertain themselves. No high stakes are allowed, and the pensioners are now given the right to play for gifts rather than money.
The Redditch Council issued a statement on the case to confirm no social gatherings held at Harry Taylor House had been cancelled. The Council members explained that they understand that has been a long-standing tradition for many of the housing complex’ residents, so they asked them only to stop playing bingo for cash prizes so that they do not breach the law.
According to the Council, the Gambling Act 2005 featured very clear provisions regarding participation in such games. The piece of legislation does not allow such games to be played for money, but other prizes could be granted.
One of the elderly residents of the housing complex, the 76-year-old Maureen Price, described the council’s decision as inappropriate, as the pensioners were wagering very small amounts of money. Ms. Price explained that the bingo games were played in the complex, which is a communal area, so everything was happening with the warden’s knowledge. She shared that Monday is the £1 bingo day, while the Tuesday games were intended to raise money “for tea and cake”.
The woman said that the bingo nights were a great thing for the pensioners to get together and keep them minds sharp, and that the games were intended only for fun. She further shared that the group of people living in the Harry Taylor House sheltered housing complex asked the councillor to check if they could be granted with a license to play there.
Another resident of the housing complex, the 77-year-old Hazel Cooke, explained that the bingo nights were more of a social gathering than anything else.