British Ex-pats in Portuguese Court for Breaching Anti-Gambling Laws

  • 02 Jul 13
  • Written by Deena Chance

altA group of ex-pats from Britain have recently appeared in a Portuguese court after being arrested in a dramatic police raid. Several police officers entered the Yorkshire Tavern bar, which is situated in Albufeira, armed with claims that the occupants had broken Portugal’s strict gambling laws. Rather than handcuffing and hauling away a gang of international criminals who were lurking behind a back curtain of the premises, the policemen targeted a group of British expatriates who were enjoying a quiet game of bingo.

It’s reported that undercover detectives had been staking out the premises for weeks, and had waited until the prizes of biscuits and chocolates had been dished out to the bingo winners before launching into action. The bar was full of British holidaymakers at the time, aged between 23 and 76, many of whom were hauled off to the local police station and questioned for up to four hour.

Marianne Pittaway (aged 34) is the Yorkshire Tavern’s landlady, and likens the raid to being “rounded up like a bunch of gangsters.” She says the arrests were made at around 11pm at night, and that the group were only told they were free to go at 3am the next morning.

Ms. Pittaway, who moved to Portugal from York, England, is one member of the group who is due to appear in a Portuguese court, to answer questions regarding allegations that they failed to apply for the relevant licence to hold their bingo game. If they are found guilty, they could be looking at a fine of between £1,300 and £8.500.

Fans of the bar’s Facebook page have taken to the popular social media site to vent their frustrations, saying that while they “do not disagree that bingo is a form of gambling,” many bars in Portugal “can and do have raffles without a problem.” The author continue to write that some bars even charge their patrons ten Euros to take part in poker games, while others advertise on local radio stations.

At least the winner of the doomed bingo game, Gerald Platt (aged 74), managed to pick up his prize before the arrests were made. However, Portuguese police officers told him to write his details on the back of his winning bingo card, which they then took away in a sealed, evidence bag, along with one of his prizes – the pack of biscuits. 

What do our readers think about this story? Fair or farcical?

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