Cocaine Traces Found In Nearly Half of All UK Bingo Halls

By McCarton Ackerman 04/28/15

Bingo halls are apparently a little different on the other side of the pond.

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A new study from the UK has found that nearly half of all bingo halls contained traces of cocaine throughout the facilities.

The investigation was carried out by tabloid rag The Sun, which looked at all 17 bingo halls throughout the UK. Eight of them had toilet seats and cistern tops come back positive for traces of cocaine when they were swab tested. A toilet at one of the halls also tested positive for crack cocaine.

“There is no doubt that illegal drug use is rising in the older age group,” said Dr. Sarah Wadd, an expert in drug use among the elderly. “I think this is mainly because heroin users from the 1980s haven’t been able to kick the habit. It’s under the radars of most professionals who don’t think older people take drugs.”

The British Crime Survey doesn’t even interview residents over age 60 about their drug habits. However, Public Health England reported a 20% increase in the last year of seniors over age 65 requiring treatment for drug addiction. About 634 pensioners received treatment in the last year, double the amount from 2009.

Miles Baron, chief executive of the Bingo Association, said the industry “takes a zero-tolerance approach to drugs.” All bingo halls interviewed made it clear that they also had a zero-tolerance policy on illicit drug use.

Last January, an Irish grandmother was arrested after police caught her with cocaine outside of a bingo hall in the city of Cork. Helen Heaphy, 50, insisted she was holding the drugs for a friend, but had two prior convictions for drug possession and obstructing a police narcotics unit. She pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing cocaine for sale or supply, but managed to avoid jail time. The owner of the hall even accepted her apology and let her continue playing bingo.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.