Brit Bingo Players in Portugal Pay Hefty Fines

Portuguese Authorities have fined a group of British and Irish tourists for playing bingo for snacks. The police even arrested and fined patrons of a popular expat bar in the resort town who were not participating in the bingo game. Twenty eight British and Irish tourists were in court in the resort town of Albufeira. Last week police swooped down on a bingo game held for ‘fun’ and no cash prizes were involved. The British woman who owned the bar was fined a whopping 800 euros (912.744 USD). She was also given a four month prison sentence which was suspended.

Bar owner Marianne Pittaway spoke to local reporters and said “Everyone in the bar who was playing bingo was handed a €300 ($391.157 USD) plus a three month suspended sentence. Those who were in the bar but not playing were given a €150 ($195.586 USD) fine plus a three-month suspended sentence. I was given a €700 ($912.605 USD) fine and a four-month suspended sentence and [partner] António was given a €500 ($ 651.804 USD) fine and a four-month suspended sentence.

Pittaway added “I am mortified by this. We were not expecting it at all. I was hoping they would let everyone else off and just fine me.” Ms. Pittaway said the police actions were “ridiculous” and “heavy handed.” Pittaway described the raid and arrests and said “We were the last to leave the bar. We locked up and were taken on a bus to the station at around ten past ten Friday night and we only left at quarter to three in the morning”, she said, arguing: “Most of our customers are OAPs and they’ve never been in trouble in their lives. Now they’ve been arrested and in court for a game of bingo. Clients want entertainment and we were only playing for a box of biscuits and some drinks.”

One Irish vacationer who wasn’t playing bingo but was caught up in the raid said “What kind of image does this give Portugal? I wasn’t even playing bingo and I was arrested. I was just about to finish my drink and go home. It was excessive. It will make people scared to go in bars now.” The police told reporters that the raid was part of an ongoing police crackdown in illegal gambling in the Algarve. They claimed that on “information reported by anonymous citizens.” AGNR police officer stated “It was an operation to tackle illegal gambling. Those who were involved were participating in a game of ‘luck and chance’ and were arrested. They were taken to Albufeira police station, identified, made official suspects and notified to appear in court.” In a threatening tone he added it is not the first time action has been carried out against illegal gambling and it won’t be the last.”

If vacationers in Portugal want to play bingo is appears that the safest alternative is internet bingo. Internet bingo can be played on desktop and laptop computers and mobile devices free from the prying eyes of the police.