Police Called To Break Up Huge Bingo Event

By Ben Hamill - October 17 2020

Police Called To Break Up Huge Bingo Event

So eager are residents of Montreal to continue to play Bingo that on Wednesday, police had no option but to visit a local gaming hall and order organisers to send 170 players home. This official visit came after an initial warning had already been issued on the Friday before – a warning issued as a result of reports received over a gathering of 250 people at the same Bingo hall. The prize money up for grabs on Friday had been a phenomenal CA$100,000.

At the time of the warnings, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu was in a so-called orange zone, being the second highest of the alert level. The region of Montérégie, along with several other Quebec regions, has since been relegated even further; to a red zone, being the highest level of alert.

Orange zones allowed for only 25 people to convene at any given time in local Bingo halls. This means that the 170 people present on Wednesday, though a group smaller than Friday’s attendees, still breached government guidelines by at least 145 individuals.

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The Rules Are Confusing

To make matters even worse, local public health officials have in the meantime confirmed a positive case of infection being linked to a Bingo event hosted at the same hall on October 4. Everyone present at the local gaming hotspot on said date have been urged to request a test from a mobile testing clinic set up temporarily in Montérégie.

HR Community Bingo is the organisation behind the Bingo events at the gaming hotspot in question. The organisation has explained its decision to allow the gathering of crowds at the local Bingo hotspot as the result of misinformation and confusion over government restrictions.

This is a sentiment shared by the association representative of all Bingo halls across the province. According to Eric Castonguay, who is the executive director of Le Secrétariat du Bingo, Quebec province’s health and safety protocols imposed on bars, restaurants, casinos, and the likes, allow for six people to be seated around a single table. No maximum limit has been announced in terms of the overall number of people permitted on a Bingo hall premises at any given time, explained Castonguay.

Varying Interpretations

Gatherings like the one hosted by the Bingo hall on Wednesday night, concluded Castonguay, are allowed by the very definition of government’s regulation directing local public gatherings in the province.

Health Minister Christian Dubé has however cautioned against organising large Bingo events – irrespective of the technical interpretations of health protocol definitions. Staging large Bingo events constitutes a lack of good judgement, said Dubé.

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