New VAT Tax Hits UK Bingo Halls

In the UK, traditional brick and mortar bingo halls have taken another hit thanks to the imposition of the new VAT taxes. Land based bingo operators have struggled to keep bingo clubs open since the passage of a national smoking ban that all but crippled the industry. Many bingo halls took measures to make the halls more attractive to smokers such as creating outside areas where smokers could participate in bingo games. One bingo provider went so far as to offer bingo games aboard a ship in international waters where the ban does not apply. Things have calmed down quite a bit and many smokers have returned to their old games sans cigarettes.

Land based bingo providers have long lobbied Parliament about the excessive taxation imposed on bingo halls. Bingo is taxed at a much higher rate than casinos and bookmakers. Bingo operators have long complained about the unfairness of the taxes. Figures show that in the past few years the number of bingo halls in the UK has fallen from about 700 to 590. On January 1st the VAT tax rose from 17% to 20%. While the increase may not seem large for bingo halls struggling to survive it could be the final nail in the coffin. Some bingo providers like Gala and Mecca have launched internet bingo operations to stay afloat. The UK internet bingo market is huge and hundreds of websites compete for players. In fact internet bingo is now the most popular leisure activity for women between the ages of 20 to 25.

In a strange turn of events recent figures have shown that internet bingo is actually benefiting the land based bingo industry. Figures show that a significant number of internet bingo players now visit local bingo halls regularly for live bingo games. Internet bingo games have created a whole new generation of bingo fans insuring the game’s future in the UK. The introduction of live bingo games targeting the young has been highly successful. In London the underground version of the game titled ‘Rebel Bingo’ has been a big hit and the games have expanded across the UK and have even reached New York! In the future most of these new players are expected to continue playing bingo well into adulthood and maturity.

Bingo has survived difficult times before and has always emerged triumphant and there is no reason to expect a different outcome this time around.