JUST half an hour before it was due to open for the first time last night, gardaí raided a new 1,000-capacity bingo hall in Cork and seized all the bingo books.
The Rock Bingo Centre was due to open its doors in the former Waters Munster Glass premises in Togher at 6.30pm.
However, at 6pm, gardaí arrived and seized the bingo books. David Barber, one of the owners and directors of the bingo centre, said: “The gardaí have now come along, served us with a warrant in the belief there is about to be an offence committed under the Gaming and Lotteries Act.”
Up to 600 people were due to play last night. Mr Barber said the operators were able to stop some people turning up by text, Facebook and their website. However, a large number still turned up, unaware of what had happened.
Mr Barber said the operators let the members of the public who arrived into the building, gave them refreshments and showed them the new facilities.
As operators of a bingo establishment, the company must work with a beneficiary charity and non-profit organisations that hold current lottery licences.
After what they saw as an attempt by the state to prevent them opening a legitimate and lawful enterprise, the operators of Rock Bingo took a case to a special sitting of the High Court over the weekend and the court found in favour of the promoters.
Last night, the facility had been due to be used by the Mercy Hospital Foundation.
Mr Barber said the raid had “left us in limbo”.
“We will be seeking a hearing of the High Court in the morning,” he said. “I am awaiting a call from the Mercy but I would imagine they are hopping mad.”
A Garda spokesman confirmed that officers “executed a search warrant under the Gaming and Lotteries Act on a premises on the Togher Road”. He also confirmed that “various” documents were seized.
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