Hundreds of bingo lovers converged on the capital today to protest at the 22 per cent taxation on bingo, which the nations bingo players and bingo industry campaigners feel will kill of the high street bingo halls. The bingo protestors gathered in the heat of the day to show their disgust at what is widely regarded as a harsh and unjust attack on the bingo industry which is already suffering due to issues such as the smoking ban, online bingo gaming and the world economic crisis. The protestors donned cut outs of Alistair Darlings face to play a special bingo game called ‘Empty House’, which is reference to the likely outcome for bingo halls up and down the country if the Government continues with its plan to tax the bingo industry at a higher rate than other types of gambling such as bookmakers and poker rooms.
Threatened with arrest
The bingo protestors gathered at Old Palace Yard waving banners with slogans in support of bingo which read ‘Hands off our Balls’ and ‘ 1 & 5, Keep Bingo Alive’. The crowd gathered to hear the bingo campaigners making stirring speeches and then played their impromptu bingo game and at one point the crowd came under police scrutiny when they were advised that they should cease using microphones or risk being arrested. This however did little to dissipate the bingo protestors or the MPs who came out to see the bingo protestors and to show their support for their cause, who were also unmoved and one MP in particular, conservative Tobias Ellwood said to the delight of the crowd "They can arrest me if they like,". No such occurrence happened although it may well have caused more publicity for the bingo campaign had that been the case, but the bingo protestors did manage to get the support of 100 MP’s who had all signed up to the early day motion regarding the bingo taxation issue.
MP’s show their support for Save Bingo campaign
The MP’s who gathered to show their support commentated on the dedication of the bingo protestors who had braved the extreme heat to make their voices heard. The bingo industry has already suffered the loss of 500 bingo halls with another 100 expected to be closed this year if the 22% taxation goes ahead. These rapidly declining bingo hall numbers are sending alarm bells ringing nationwide as communities realise that their own small village or town bingo halls might well be the next closure on the list. In a lot of communities the bingo hall is seen as vital to the local community and as Tobias Ellwood said in his interview with the Politics reporter Alex Stevenson, bingo halls are vitally important "It's just like using a post office, a village hall," and are very much "part of our lives, part of our fabric".
Mecca Bingo, the Bingo Association and other big names like Gala Bingo and Buckingham Bingo are all backing the save bingo campaign, the full details which can be found in our earlier article published on 30th May. We ask all our readers to help the struggling bingo industry as without the high street bingo halls that we have all grown to know and love there would be no online bingo sites today – Land based Bingo is our Mother and we would like her saved!