Residents at the Harry Taylor House complex in Redditch, near Birmingham, have been asked not to participate in the longstanding tradition for cash prizes after being told they “may not be confirming to the law” - but stressed they can “still play for fun”.
According to Redditch Council, the Gambling Act 2005 says you cannot charge people to participate in bingo that, in turn, awards people cash prizes paid for by the entry fee.
Now the group of OAPs have been left to seek a license to continue playing for money in a move branded “disappointing” and “stupid” by residents.
Every Monday those in the sheltered housing complex pay £1 to play, with the winner taking the prize money, and on Tuesdays the £1 entry fee goes towards tea and cake, as well as residential outings.
Great-grandmother Maureen Price, 76, a retired catering assistant with limited mobility, said: "It's stupid, we only play for peanuts.
"We asked a councillor, who's very good, to see if they can get us a license to play here and he's looking into it.
"The game is played in a communal area so it's under the warden's eye. Monday is the £1 bingo day, but Tuesday we play for £1 again but it's for tea and cake.
The weekly bingo night has been a feature at the care home for 38 years, and is a source of entertainment for many of the elderly residents by providing them with a chance to socialise and keep mentally sharp.
Ms Price added: "It gives us the opportunity to all get together and keep our minds active. It is just a bit of fun and it's disappointing that they want to put a stop to it."
Hazel Cooke, 77, added: "There is a real social aspect to the bingo nights which is nice to have, I just hope the event hasn't been tainted by the council’s decision."
Redditch Council said in a statement: "We appreciate that this is a longstanding tradition for many of the residents, which we would not wish to negate. What we have asked is that residents do not play bingo for cash prizes as they may not be conforming to the law.
"The Gambling Act 2005 makes it very clear that you cannot charge for participation in the game and that, in turn, the prizes cannot be made up of moneys paid to participate. We have made contact with a number of groups, as well as Harry Taylor House, to explain the situation.
"Unfortunately some of the groups have decided not to continue as a result - even though they can still play for fun."