Bingo playing pensioners Accused of illegal Gambling

It sounds like one of those highly improbable plots from a 1980s TV sitcom, but pensioners in a German nursing home have finally been permitted to recommence their regular games of bingo, after the home’s managers had put a stop to the fun for fear of breaching local gambling laws.

City cracks down on €0.50 gamblers

The strange sequence of events played out at Sozial-Betriebe residential home in the city of Cologne. Every week, the elderly residents each contribute €0.50 into a kitty and embark on a game of bingo, hoping to win the weekly prize, which is a box of chocolates.

However, the home felt forced to curtail last week’s event, after local authorities informed them that the games contravened Germany’s gambling laws. These prohibit gambling for money in a premises that does not hold the appropriate licence.

The home’s manager, Gabriele Patzke, initially thought she was at the centre of a practical joke. She said: “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.”

Taking bingo online

Although it was once considered the pastime of choice for old aged pensioners, bingo has seen a surge in popularity across all age groups and demographics over recent years, thanks to the meteoric rise of online gaming and casinos. With senior citizens becoming increasingly internet savvy, perhaps the pensioners of Cologne would be better off joining the online revolution and seeking out the best bingo sites to win on in 2018, rather than risk the full weight of the local authorities coming down on their shoulders.


There is certainly a wide range of sites to choose from, and many of them offer opening bonuses of £100 or more. Also, there is the opportunity to win jackpots that typically run to five figure sums – that equates to a lot of boxes of chocolates!

Temporary licence

Fortunately for the residents at Sozial-Betriebe, the city has come up with a solution to allow the games to recommence, at least for the time being, by issuing a temporary licence. However, it could be that they should still go out and buy a smartphone, tablet or laptop and register with an online site, just in case. The licence expires in three months, after which time, they could find themselves facing exactly the same problem.

In addition, the home is required to give formal notice to the authorities every time a game takes place. A city spokesman said, without any trace of irony, that this represented the best way to solve the problem “quickly and unbureaucratically.”

While it is easy to poke fun at the authorities, they are, of course, only doing their jobs and applying the laws that they are given to work with. If scorn is to be directed anywhere, it should, perhaps, be aimed at the unnamed local accountant who reported the “illegal gambling” last year and set the legal wheels in motion. Will Cologne’s pensioners be allowed to play bingo in peace from now on? Only time will tell.