Two-hundred poker players who had their cash seized by police last weekend during the raid of the Cavendish Club, a poker club located in Belfast, Ireland, will see their money returned to them, says a local judge.
According to reports, officers took £23,000 from the club on Saturday night and, despite angry complaints filed by patrons and the owner of the bar, Sean Murphy, the police filed a "Proceeds of Crime" application at Belfast Magistrates Court in an effort to keep the cash as evidence.
The Cavendish Club is well known among poker players in Northern Ireland. It has hosted the online Texas Hold'em Poker Open and is often featured on the U.K.'s Sky TV. Regular patrons include many professionals, such as doctors and lawyers. The establishment, which only serves coffee and tea, was raided by over 40 armed officers in riot gear.
Police explained the raid as a necessary act, claiming it was stormed because a significant number of similar clubs have opened up in the city recently and they are not exactly legal under U.K. law, which puts poker and gambling in a gray area.
Judge Desmond Perry was apparently not satisfied with the police's reasoning, and insisted they return the money to Mr. Murphy so that he may re-distribute it accordingly to his patrons. He also demanded Mr. Murphy close the Cavendish Club.
He said, "I see no reason for the further detention of this money and it is left to Mr. Murphy to see that it is returned to those people to whom it belongs because I feel he won't be re-opening the Cavendish Club."
Mr. Murphy will not be challenging the wishes of Judge Perry, and will indeed be closing the doors of the Cavendish Club.