Further to our recent reports regarding the tax increases imposed by the Chancellor in the last budget which affects UK bingo halls, it has been reported over the weekend that a whole group of players and Mecca Bingo staff in Rochdale have decided that they will fight what they consider to be an unfair level of taxation levied. The 735 Rochdale Mecca Bingo hall players and staff have written to their MP Mr Paul Rowen to ask for his support in trying to get the new taxation level changed back to 15% from the increase of 22 per cent.
Mr Rowen is himself in favour of the Rochdale Mecca Bingo hall fight as he believes that the rise is unfair to the largely female and often elderly people who play bingo at halls up and down the country. Clearly with a rise in taxation it may mean that prices will go up or in the worst case scenario that the clubs including the Mecca Bingo hall in Rochdale will be forced to close if they do not have enough income. The Mecca Bingo players are further angered as the new taxation levels do not affect bookmakers who still remain on their 15% threshold.
Mr Rowen had already campaigned Alistair Darling the Chancellor and Andy Burnham the Culture Minister on behalf of the bingo industry to have the VAT element of taxation removed from bingo halls in line with other gambling institutions. Although the VAT has now been abolished the new tax level on gross profit is likely to cost the industry much more in the long run. Mr Rowen sees the new 22 per cent as discrimination and as such backs the Mecca Bingo hall campaigners completely. At a time when bingo halls are already closing up and down the country and diminishing player numbers are being reported it is a sad fact that the government is clearly intent on putting yet another nail in the coffin of the bingo industry.
The ladies of the Mecca Bingo hall are not going to lay down and put up and shut up, and rightly so. The humble bingo hall is now a part of the culture of towns and villages across the country providing a much needed social centre for the elderly, housewives (and of course house husbands) who are largely tied to the house because of domestic reasons. Those who have disabilities or are lonely often use the bingo hall as a much needed lifeline and a link to their quieter more peaceful lives in what is now increasingly a very fast paced modern world.