Big Changes in Store For the UK Bingo Industry

New regulations for offshore internet bingo sites and lower taxes for land based bingo halls in the UK may be in the works if the new coalition government has its way. Recently MP Tom Greatrex from Rutherglen and Hamilton West visited a local Mecca bingo hall to discuss issues with constituents. One of the issues discussed was the high tax rates bingo halls face. Greatrex recently called for lower taxes on land based bingo halls in the UK. Currently bingo is taxed at a higher rate than any other form of gambling. Although Greatrex is not a bingo player himself he had plenty to say about the importance of bingo to communities. Greatrex told reporters “Bingo has a very important social function in communities throughout my constituency, bringing together people of all ages and backgrounds for a fun few hours. It is concerning, then, that bingo should be subject to higher levels of taxation than other forms of gambling. I have written to the Tory Treasury Minister, Justine Greening MP, about this, calling for tax on bingo to be reduced.” Bingo hall operators across the UK are hoping that Greatrex’s efforts on their behalf are successful.

The new coalition government is also taking a look at internet bingo especially offshore sites that benefit from the lucrative UK bingo market but do not pay any taxes in the country. According to an unnamed ‘senior government source’ all that may change in the near future. The new government plans to ban advertising by offshore bingo sites and impost a US style ban on the use of credit cards at internet bingo sites. Currently only internet bingo operators located in the UK are required to be licensed by the gambling commission and pay a 15% tax. Offshore bingo sites pay no taxes in the UK and are located in jurisdictions with very low tax rates.

As can be easily seen internet bingo operators located in the UK are at a distinct disadvantage with offshore sites that pay no taxes or licensing fees. The new government hopes to address this disparity and require all gambling sites doing business in the UK to pay taxes and obtain licenses from the gambling commission. All offshore sites would also have programs in place to prevent underage gambling and address problem gambling. It looks like big changes are in store for the bingo industry in the United Kingdom.