Bingo Backing MPs Pledge to Fight for Fair Play

February 22, 2011 - by adminlo · Filed Under London Bingo News, Uncategorized Leave a Comment 

Recent government statistics have revealed the rapid decline in the number of UK bingo halls. A decline of 29 per cent from 650 bingo halls in 1997 to 460 in 2010 has led to a campaign against what some MPs consider as foul play.

The fight for the survival of bingo halls may seem a surprising campaign for MPs to be backing as bingo games are a form of gambling, but the social aspect of the traditional bingo hall, known as land bingo, has clearly made its mark on the consciences of MPs from all three main political parties.

In autumn 2010, the Bingo Association announced that it had news from what is known as the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bingo (APPG). Since holding its first annual general meeting in October, the group embarked on a series of awareness campaigns with the aim of making land bingo games subject to the same level of VAT as other forms of gambling.

The campaigns were not successful in managing to exclude bingo from the rises; a result that many feel is unfair as VAT for online games has remained unchanged.

The group is chaired by the Conservative MP Brian Binley, who said: ‘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.’

New Labour MP Luciana Berger, elected as secretary of the group, commented: ‘Bingo was a big issue on the doorstep ahead of this
year’s election, which is why I pledged that if I was elected I would help the bingo industry reduce its tax burden. I am proud to have supported the bingo industry in the past but am now grateful that this new all party group has been formed to help drive the campaign forwards.’

Declining numbers at land bingo has been blamed on the impact of the smoking ban, the recent recession and the rising cost of VAT. On a night out everything has become more expensive and for bingo players, that bit extra is just too much. Many have turned to the increasingly popular online bingo games where you can have a night of fun without leaving the house. This trend has left land bingo halls struggling to compete and many independent and small venues closures.

It is easy to see why people are increasingly playing online bingo. The social aspect can be kept up with chat rooms but no longer does a player need to get dressed up and leave the house to participate. Free bingo games are common and without the need to buy drinks and food as you play; online bingo is cheap, accessible and yet retains its sociability. You can meet up with friends online or make new ones. Land bingo may be a victim of both the VAT increases and improved technology.

One of the popular bingo games online is no deposit bingo. This is when no deposit on your part is required to participate in an online bingo game. Online bingo sites can be quite competitive with their free bingo no deposit bonuses. By playing this method there is no risk to your finances.

The former Home Secretary Alan Johnson visited a land bingo venue in his constituency in November 2010 and saw firsthand how damaging the higher taxation rate is for the halls that are left in business. Other forms of gambling, online bingo and bookmakers are all subject to a lower rate of VAT and it is felt by many that the current legislation is an unfair application of taxation for the industry.

Steve Jones, manager of Alan Johnson’s local land bingo venue was delighted that the former Home Secretary had visited his local club. Steve said: ‘We appreciate Alan taking time out of his busy schedule to visit the club and talk to the team members about the social importance of bingo and its place in the local community. We hope that he will be able to use his role as Shadow Chancellor to press for a reduction in the unfair taxation of bingo.’

Alan said: ‘This is my first visit to the club and it was good to see first-hand just how important bingo is to customers from a social interaction perspective.’? He later commented that ‘bingo plays a key role in local communities so it’s important that they are subject to a fair tax regime.’

Whether people play land bingo or swap to play bingo games online, it is important to remember that bingo is gambling. Players are responsible for themselves and there is no certainty of any winnings. Free bingo is the only form of the game online that offers no financial risk. It will be interesting to see if the government admits foul play on the higher rate of bingo VAT and reduces it to play fair.

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