Bingo duo call for tax breaks

Gala and Rank, the UK’s biggest bingo operators, have joined forces in an attempt to persuade the government to go easy on bingo operators in Britain as they are set to face hard times following the implementation of a smoking ban in in bingo clubs in July of this year.

Gala and Rank claim that if they are not given concessions by the government, as many as 200 of Britain’s 800 bingo clubs could face extinction.

A smoking ban was introduced in Scotland last year, which caused a big fall in profitability and revenues for many bingo clubs. Many clubs saw as much as 15 per cent wiped off their revenues after its introduction. Even though the ban has only affected the smaller clubs to a larger extent, the chief executives of the bingo giants are still worried.

The bingo operators want to offer additional games, such as Keno, in between the main games therefore allowing smokers to go outside and smoke and return in time for the main bingo game. However, offering different types of games is currently against the law.

There will also be proposals to allow between twelve to sixteen jackpot amusement machines increased from the current four allowed in clubs.

But perhaps most importantly and audaciously, they want VAT on bingo takings to be ditched. At present, bingo operators pay VAT and a gross profits tax, a situation they claim to be unreasonable given that other forms of gaming are only charged a tax on profits.

Executives from Gala and Rank, as well as Sir Peter Fry, chairman of the Bingo Association, plan to meet with government ministers in the next fortnight in an effort to change the current situation.

Ian Burke, Rank’s chief executive, said that it was “time to rectify some of the things that have survived longer than they ought to have done” in reference to VAT. According to Gala’s chief executive, Neil Goulden, bingo is set to suffer greatly from the ban since 46 per cent of bingo players smoked, compared to the 25 per cent of the overall population.

Editor, - 2007-01-15 13:06:16

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