'Charity' bingo hall to stay open as injunction extended
A GIANT bingo complex at the centre of a garda gambling row will now operate daily for the next fortnight on foot of an extended High Court injunction.
The Rock Bingo complex at Togher in Cork -- which boasts a 1,000-seat auditorium and hi-tech electronic bingo tables -- successfully secured the extension yesterday.
The original injunction, obtained last Wednesday, was secured 24 hours after gardai raided the premises on its opening night and seized all its bingo cards and books.
The garda raid was on foot of a District Court order and forced the postponement of the complex opening for 48 hours.
Now, the High Court has ruled that such a warrant could only be sought with 24 hours' notice to the operators.
Mr Justice Roderick Murphy made the ruling as he adjourned an action by Omega Leisure Ltd, trading as Rock Bingo Club.
The High Court will now revisit the matter on November 21.
Omega/Rock Bingo is adamant that it is operating as an agent for a hospital charity under a valid lottery licence.
However, the State denies any wrongdoing and wants the injunction discharged on grounds including that it interferes with the gardai carrying out their duties.
Mr Justice Murphy ruled that if the State wants to seek future warrants in the District Court against the bingo operator it must be done with 24 hours' notice to Omega Leisure.
The leisure firm had complained to the High Court that Togher-based Supt Charles Barry operated what they termed "a systematic policy" to ensure gambling did not take place locally.
The complex's rescheduled opening night took place on Thursday and was attended by more than 250 bingo fans.
A portion of the proceeds from the night will now go to the Mercy Hospital Foundation (MHF) charity.
Last night, Omega director Dave Barber said they were very pleased with the extended High Court injunction -- and will now be staging bingo events daily until the next court hearing.
Patrons at the opening night expressed themselves deeply impressed with the complex, which boasts a heated auditorium, seating for almost 1,000 patrons, electronic gaming facilities and a restaurant.
Taxi and coach operators are now in negotiations over plans to ferry bingo fans from a 50km radius to the complex for game nights.