Bingo in trouble

As Rank Group delivered a profit warning to the stock market last week as the affect of the smoking ban hits their bingo business, chief executive Ian Burke accompanied that caution with a prediction of stark future for the wider game of bingo.

Currently, bingo operators are doubled taxed; the only form of gambling to be so. They pay 15 per cent gaming duty plus 17.5 per cent VAT and have been pleading the government to abolish the latter.

The Bingo Association met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe recently to discuss the matter.

“The Prime Minister promised to speak to Darling about the situation with an answer ahead of next year's Budget, and he asked Sutcliffe to look into any action his department could take to help with the new gambling laws,” said Paul Talboys, chief executive of the Bingo Association.

Since 2006, 60 bingo clubs have closed as the number of bingo visits has waned and it is predicted that the future of 200 more are uncertain.

Burke also believes that it is much more than money at stake.

“Communities are suffering. There's a lot of anger from customers who feel a game that acts as a social amenity is being picked on,” he said.

That view is echoed by The Henley Centre which published a report last August on the social impact of the closure of bingo clubs.

“The loss, especially those in small, rural venues and deprived urban locations, has meant not only the loss of pastime, but also the disappearance of a unique social support network,” the report said.

Editor, - 2007-11-19 11:31:33

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