Joe Robertson News Article - Headlined Wine Bar's Boss in a Spin

Wine BAr’s Boss in a Spin

The odds were against a wine bar owner when his crowd-pulling wheel of fortune gimmick put the Gaming Board in a spin.

He was reported to the board for innocently operating an illegal gambling lottery.

Spirits were high among the punters at Berlins in Westgate Road, Newcastle, when they had the chance to win a free drink on the spin of the wheel, or even a bottle of champagne.

But a spoke was put in the wheel when a customer – believed to be a business rival – reported the bar was operating a gambling lottery without a licence.

Now, owner Joe Robertson, is determined not to give up his unique wheel-spinning venture.

Mr Robertson, chairman of the City Leisure Group, said the wheel had been providing a lot of fun and the customers were benefiting from the free bottles of champagne.

“There was a complaint and we changed the format of the wheel to comply with the Gaming Act,” he said.


Customers used to ask for a drink and, before they paid, the bar staff would spin the wheel. Depending on which segment it landed on, they were entitled to double the round, half price, 25 per cent off, a free bottle of champagne, or had to pay the full price of the standard drink.

Now the wheel is spun before the drinks are ordered at the bar to show a pre-determined price and then everyone in the bar who walks up and asks for drinks is entitled to have what is showing.

Manager Frank Armani, 43, said: “We have adapted the wheel and taken off the free drinks and the free bottle of champagne to make it a free glass of champagne.

“Naturally, we couldn’t give free bottles of champagne to everyone in the bar,” he added.