Portuguese Arrest Tourists For Watching Bingo Game

A few years ago several British vacationers in Turkey were arrested for playing bingo. Most chose to leave the country and most said they would never return to the Islamic state. In Portugal puritanism has reared its ugly head again and several British and Irish expats and vacationers have been arrested and harassed for the dangerous crime of playing bingo for biscuits and chocolates. One Irishman told how he was among a group of 28 holidaymakers arrested for watching a game of bingo take place. An anonymous denunciation led to a raid by police in the holiday resort of Albufeira. Police swooped down on the popular Yorkshire Tavern pub and arrested customers and the pub’s owners.

In Portugal even bingo nights require a license even if there are no cash prizes. An Irish vacationer told the Irish Independent he had not been playing bingo and was enjoying a drink when he was arrested. The unnamed man said “I was having a few drinks and just before I was about to depart the bingo started. Before I had a chance to leave, the first prize of a line by a 76-year-old man called Gerald was declared. Following that, the GNR (Portuguese police) started visiting tables and taking people’s names. I was approached by a lady police officer who I informed I was not participating but I was told I still had to go to the police station. I was shocked, I couldn’t believe it.”

The man said that he and several other patrons were held for hours at the police station and were told they had to appear in court. Since he was not playing bingo the man was extorted for €150 donation to a charity or face six weeks in prison for doing absolutely nothing illegal. Those who were playing bingo were extorted for €300 or they could face a three month prison sentence. The unnamed man told reporters “They said, under Portuguese law, those who participate and those who are on the premises are equally guilty. How could anybody, particularly foreigners, when they are entering a bar or restaurant, know that the premises has the appropriate licence?”

He went on to say “My immediate thought was to sell up and move out and never return to Portugal. He is a retiree and owns an apartment in the Algarve. “I hadn’t been to the Yorkshire Tavern for a couple of weeks and I was just unfortunate I was there” he said. Marianne Pittaway, the owner of the pub, said another Irish couple was able to return home before the court hearing.