Portuguese Authorities Fine British and Irish Expats for Playing Bingo for Snacks


Credit: DAVID HOLT/wikimedia

Twenty-eight British and Irish expats and tourists were fined by officials in Portugal after playing bingo for drinks and what the British call biscuits. The British landlady who hosted the event at her bar was fined 700 euros and given a four-month suspended prison sentence. Authorities fined each of the 28 participants as well as some of the onlookers.

Portugal has strict gambling laws, which prohibit games of "luck and chance" being played at venues without proper authorization. Police acted on information from anonymous tippers, who evidently have a problem with consenting adults playing bingo for food and drink.

From the BBC:

Landlady Marianne Pittaway, from North Yorkshire, was fined 700 euros (£595) for hosting the game at The Yorkshire Tavern in Albufeira, on Friday night.

Ms Pittaway, 34, also received a four-month suspended prison sentence.

She said she was "still in shock" and that the country's regulations were "wrong in a lot of aspects".

Ms Pittaway, who has been in Portugal for eight years, said her bar would "definitely not" be staging bingo again following Friday's raid.

The 28 appeared in court in Albufeira earlier to face charges of "exploitation of illegal gambling, illegal gambling and witnessing illegal gambling", according to the police.

Even some of the people in the bar who were not playing bingo were fined 150 euros (£125) and given a three-month suspended sentence for "witnessing illegal gambling".

Organisers of bingo in Portugal have to apply for a government licence.

Portugal might be tolerant when it comes to drugs, having decriminalized the possession of all drugs in 2001, but when it comes to gambling Portuguese authorities are evidently not quite as tolerant.