Pub bingo faces final call following judges ruling

Unlucky for some - a judge has refused an application by a publican to hold a bingo fundraiser, in a case which could spell the end of bingo callers in bars.

Pub bingo faces final call following judges ruling

Unlucky for some - a judge has refused an application by a publican to hold a bingo fundraiser, in a case which could spell the end of bingo callers in bars.

Bandon District Court heard that James Casey, proprietor of Casey’’s Bar in Clonakilty in West Cork, had applied for a lottery licence to hold the charity fundraiser for the Simon Community and Marymount Hospice, but was told that under a new approach in light of the pending Gaming and Lotteries Act 2019, a gaming licence was also required.

That element also existed under the current 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act, but it seems it wasn’’t strictly adhered to or monitored.

That has now changed, with State Solicitor Malachy Boohig outlining that both licences were needed for bingo in a licensed premises - with conditions to be adhered to.

That would mean no serving of food or drink while the bingo was going on, and the court also heard that a publican might not even be able to make an application in the first place.

Mr Boohig also said that inspections will be taking place, and if bars were not fully adhering to the law, it was likely that prosecutions would follow.

He said Mr Casey was "a person of the highest standard" and added it was "nothing personal".

BL for Mr Casey, Jessica Bartak-Healy, said a previous licence had been issued in January to her client and this was "new territory".

Judge King quoted from the 2012 High Court judgement of Mr Justice (now Chief Justice) Clarke in Omega Leisure Ltd vs Supt Charles Barry, the Garda Commissioner and others, which outlined how Section 26(1) of the 1956 Act makes any lottery unlawful unless it is conducted in accordance with either a permit or a licence.

The Judge also made reference to Section 28(2), as amended by the Lottery Prizes Regulations 2002, of the Act in which it outlines the conditions - that the bingo be for some charitable or philanthropic purpose or purposes; and that the licensee shall derive no personal profit from it.

Ms Bartak-Healy said her client would be prepared to suspend the sale of food or drink while the bingo was on.

But Judge John King quoted from the 2012 judgement: "There can be no doubt but that the licensee in respect of any lottery licence granted by the District Court under the provisions of the 1956 Act must be a charitable organisation."

"In this case you have someone who is not a charity applying for a licence," Judge King said.

Ms Bartak-Healy said her client had been following what other publicans are doing, but Judge King said it wasn’’t a case of habit, "it’’s either legal or it’’s illegal".

"It appears to me that the application must be made by a charity."

Ms Bartak-Healy said her client would give evidence that he will give 100% of the money to the charities, and he could include the charities on the notice of the application, but the judge said the charity itself would have to apply.

He dismissed the application, although an appeal is possible.

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