Judge Rules Irish Bingo Hall is Legal Operation

A Cork Ireland bingo has finally gotten the green light from a court that said that the bingo operation is perfectly legal. The hall has had to deal with harassment from local law enforcement and a police superintendant that is opposed to any form of gambling. In November 2011 the hall was raided just a half hour before games were to begin. The police seized documents and bingo tickets making it impossible to go ahead with the games. On December 9th a high court affirmed that the hall’s activities were lawful. Unfortunately the court dismissed the bingo company’s arguments that Togher-based Police Superintendant Charles Barry, who obtained the warrants to carry out the raid, was guilty of misfeasance (improper execution of a lawful act) in public office. The police raids have been the subject of many articles at bingo news sites.

The operator, Omega Leisure Ltd., had invested over one million dollars in the state of the art bingo hall. Despite the high court’s ruling the hall was raided a second time on New Year’s Day 2012, the second police raid in two months. The police, acting on a warrant, conducted a search and seizure operation designed to delay the hall’s opening.  An estimated 500 bingo players had gathered for the gala opening of the hall and watched in dismay as police stormed the hall. A number of books were taken away by the police and fortunately the games in the main auditorium were not disrupted. The police used the excuse that they were concerned that the hall’s charitable partner was not located in Cork.

Now it looks like the legal battle may be over for the beleaguered bingo hall. On January 12th the operators of the hall were given the green light to operate the hall as an agent for a charity. Omega Leisure Ltd had sought a high court declaration that it was entitled to run the hall as an agent for a charity after obtaining a District Court licence. The company requested the court order in proceedings against Police Supt Charles Barry of Togher, the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice and Equality, Ireland and the Attorney General.

The defendants said that the hall’s operations were not legal because Omega, the hall’s operators had been refused a license by Cork District Court and was not entitled to use a license issued by another court. Mr. Justice Frank Clarke riled that the license obtained by Omega could come from any district court. Clarke ruled that Rock Bingo is a lawful operation but the decision could be revisited on appeal to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately Clarke dismissed the claim that Supt Barry was misusing his position to harass the hall. Clarke stated “I am not satisfied that Supt Barry was guilty of misfeasance in public office and the claim fails in that regard.”