UK Lawmakers Unite to Fight Excessive Bingo Taxation

A recently released report said that about two bingo halls close every month in the UK. Bingo halls have been struggling ever since the draconian smoking ban was imposed on the UK population. Attendance at bingo games declined dramatically. As if that wasn’t bad enough the government decided that bingo should be taxed at a much higher rate than other forms of gambling. The new VAT (value added tax) caused many bingo halls that were already struggling to close their doors putting thousands out of work. A group of lawmakers in Parliament has formed to fight for fair taxation for bingo halls in the UK. The organization known as All Party Parliamentary Group on Bingo (APPG) includes members from all political parties. The organization is chaired by conservative MP Brian Binley. In a recent interview Binley stated, “I am delighted to have been elected as chair of the APPG on bingo. I have consistently called for a fairer taxation system for bingo halls in light of the social importance and that issue is a top priority for the group. You cannot underestimate the importance of bingo halls in the United Kingdom and I have been saddened by the closure of so many clubs over the last five years.”

Labour MP Luciana Berger was elected as secretary for the group. Land based bingo halls have been severely pressured by a combination of the smoking ban and its effects, excessive taxation and the ongoing recession. The hike in taxation has forced many live bingo halls to pass along the increased taxes to customers in the form of higher fees and game prices. For many struggling to get by the hike in prices has caused many to abandon land based bingo in favor of internet bingo which is cheaper. Many smaller towns and villages are now without a local bingo hall and pensioners have been hard hit by the closures.

It is easy to see why so many players have turned to internet bingo. It is clearly less expensive and although it does not provide players with face to face communication most bingo sites operate chat rooms and offer players several social media options. Even former Home Secretary Alan Johnson has voiced concerns about the effect taxation is having on bingo halls. Last November former Home Secretary Johnson visited a bingo hall in his district and saw the effects of excessive taxation firsthand. Johnson noted that “bingo plays a key role in local communities so it’s important that they are subject to a fair tax regime.” It remains to be seen how effective the coalition of politicians will be in solving the taxation problems faced by live bingo halls. In the meantime the exodus of players to internet bingo continues.