Elderly Germans lose bingo in legal scare

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No large sums changed hands at the German bingo evenings (archive pic)

A care home provider in Cologne has suspended its favorite bingo evenings for the elderly because the idea does not have a licence for gambling.

An accountant said SBK-Köln’s bingo evenings could be illegal, after spotting which a winner had received a box of chocolates. Players paid 0.5 euros (£0.4; $0.6) for each bingo card.

SBK-Köln can be at This particular point trying to get its bingo legalised as “a tiny lottery”.

“Bingo should resume in February,” the firm’s manager Gabriele Patzke said.

She said about 100 elderly people enjoyed the weekly bingo evenings at the firm’s Riehl care home. They included guests by outside the home.

‘the idea’s about being sociable’

The suspension of bingo had “caused disappointment – the idea’s a favorite event”, she told the BBC.

The prizes are not big – mostly chocolates or cakes, she explained.

She said which in North Rhine-Westphalia state the authorities can allow tiny lotteries without the organisers requiring a gambling licence. This particular can be what she can be currently trying to arrange.

A two-times winner, 73-year-old Ingeborg Kohllöffel, told Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger news: “Our bingo was banned for such a petty reason.”

“We actually miss our bingo evenings,” she said.

“the idea’s not about money, the idea’s about being sociable. Many of us only have tiny pensions – we can’t afford costly bus journeys or trips to the cinema.”

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