Germany News

Gambling ban on Cologne seniors’ illegal bingo game to be lifted

Residents at a retirement home in Cologne were told earlier this week that their weekly bingo game was illegal. They have now been given a three-month licence to play the game in which the winner gets chocolates.

The relief must be palpable at the Sozial-Betriebe residential home in Cologne. On Monday the old folks' home announced that it had banned all further bingo games among its residents after city authorities had warned it that the games were taking place in contravention of German gambling laws.

“We were completely speechless at first when we heard about it, we never thought that we, a senior citizen's institution, were running an illegal gambling ring,” said the home’s manager, Gabriele Patzke.

The pensioners at the home each contribute a sum of €0.50 to the weekly game and stand the chance of winning a box of chocolates at the end.

An accountant had alerted the city authorities to a potential violation of gambling laws last year.

But on Tuesday city authorities said they hoped to have the ban lifted quickly.

A spokesperson for the city said that “we hope to solve this quickly and unbureaucratically by giving them a three-month permit."

A lawyer for the home confirmed that the permit was in the pipeline, adding that the city decided that the bingo games fell under the law on “small lotteries”, which has a simplified application procedure.

But for the seniors to keep indulging their vice, they will have to jump through more bureaucratic hoops in the future. Besides only receiving an initial three-month gambling permit, the home will have to notify authorities each time a game is to take place.

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