Bingo has received a very small whiff of victory after Alistair (not such a) Darling released details of his pre-Budget report, the report details plans to amend the rate of gross profit tax paid to the Treasury by the bingo industry. The unpopular hike in the duty paid by the industry from 15% to 22% will now be reduced to 20% and although this will no doubt help the ailing bingo industry a little it is widely felt that the revised rate does not go far enough to turn the tide of bingo hall closures completely.
The Bingo Association along with big industry names including Mecca Bingo have been campaigning for the tax duty to be lowered to take it in line with other forms of gambling. Unfortunately the Chancellor was not intending to back track completely, and so although the reduction by 2% was not entirely what the industry were looking for, they will be pleased of the very small victory. The Chief Executive of the Bingo Association Paul Talboys was quoted in the Independent as sayng in respect of the changes to bingo duty "We are pleased that the Treasury has listened and digested the actual 'facts' of bingo tax and revised the gross profit tax rate.
"But the reasons for its delayed implementation until the next Budget is not apparent and will mean that the much-needed benefit, particularly for smaller independent clubs, will not be felt until April 2010. I only hope that they can all make it."
Clearly the Bingo Association is mindful of how damaged the land based bingo industry is, with well over 100 clubs closing suffering from a combination of problems including the higher taxation, the smoking ban, changes to the slot machines and changing player habits. Bingo Hideout published an article regarding the campaign to reduce the bingo duty yesterday, in the hope that further exposure could be given to the bingo industry campaign. The I’m Backing Bingo campaign has been actively seeking to return the bingo duty to the same as other forms of gambling, and although the war has not been won this is very much a move by the government i n the right direction. The Chief Executive of Rank which owns Mecca Bingo said "It is still not clear why Britain's bingo clubs should be subject to a higher tax rate than that applied to other gaming and betting."