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Bingo operators vow to stage comeback after garda raid

The Rock Bingo Centre in Cork won an emergency High Court order this morning after their bingo books were seized last night.

The empty interior of the Rock Bingo Centre last night
The empty interior of the Rock Bingo Centre last night
Image: Gerard McCarthy

THE OPERATORS OF a Cork bingo hall that was prevented from launching last night by a last-minute garda raid have said they will finally open tomorrow.

The Rock Bingo Centre in Togher was set for its grand opening last night when gardaí arrived with a search warrant. “They seized our bingo books,” operator Dave Barber told TheJournal.ie.

However, he said they plan to try again tomorrow after obtaining an emergency order in the High Court this morning. “We’re happy,” Barber said. He said they had won an interim court order restraining gardaí from “obstructing or hindering” any lottery on their premises.

Shortly afterward, Rock Bingo announced on their Facebook page that they would open again tomorrow.

Last night the hall posted a message saying: “Due to unforeseen legal circumstances we have to cancel bingo tonight.”

Barber said despite last-minute attempts to contact customers via text message and Facebook, around 150 people still arrived. “We kept our doors open to facilitate them,” Rock Bingo manager Dave Barber said. “We were expecting anything between 600 and 1,000 people last night.”

Customers expressed their disappointment on Facebook. “Going mad we didnt have a game,” one wrote. Another posted: “Hubbie disappointed i came home without the jackpot, he wants a new shed!”

The night’s event was to be run in conjunction with the Mercy University Hospital Foundation. Bingo events must take place with a licence, which can only be held by charities or sporting groups with such groups typically allowing bingo operators to use their licences in return for a portion of the proceeds.

The Mercy University Hospital Foundation confirmed this morning that it holds a lottery licence, and said it was reviewing the High Court decision.

Last month the Rock Bingo Centre announced that it would create 30 jobs when it opened as the first large-scale bingo hall in Cork. However, its plans have been followed by controversy. It was only able to open after another High Court order overruled objections at the weekend, the Irish Examiner reports.

Barber said the operators are due back in the court on Friday.

A garda spokesman confirmed to TheJournal.ie that officers in Togher “executed a search warrant at an entertainment premises under the Gaming and Lotteries Act”.

Read more: New bingo hall creates 30 jobs in Cork>

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Michael Freeman

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