herald

Wednesday 29 January 2020

'A big success' - players start round of applause after Government U-turn

Bingo player Ann Flood welcomed the news
Bingo player Ann Flood welcomed the news

Bingo players say the Government's 11th-hour U-turn on its controversial prize payout scheme is like winning the jackpot.

Players broke out into a round of applause at the Jack Pott's bingo hall in Whitehall yesterday afternoon when a caller took to the stage of the former Grand Cinema to announce the good news.

"Congratulations to you. It's a big success for bingo today," she said.

Many of the small gathering of mostly pensioners playing yesterday had already heard the news that their Save Our Bingo campaign - including a protest outside Leinster House on Tuesday involving hundreds of angry players - had achieved its goal.

Embarrassing

The Government had proposed an amendment to gambling and lottery legislation in which prize money should not exceed 50pc of the proceeds from entry fees.

However, it was forced into an embarrassing climbdown on Wednesday after protesters claimed the new rules would shut down bingo halls because of the paltry payout, and it supported an opposition amendment to the bill that will allow prize money to be up to 75pc of takings.

The vote came less than 24 hours after Junior Minister David Stanton insisted he would not change the legislation in which just 50pc of proceeds could go in prize money, with 25pc of proceeds going to charity.

Whitehall resident Ann Flood (62), who has been playing bingo since the age of 10, said she was delighted with the news. Not only did she win €170 on Wednesday night when the news broke, she has no fear now of her hall being forced to close.

"I was over the moon," she said.

Her friend Karl Douglas (35) said: "It would break my heart if they took it away."

Pensioners James (77) and Teresa Keegan (75), from Poppintree, said they were also delighted.

"It's a long day if you're just sitting in the house and your family has grown up and gone," Ms Keegan added.

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