LONDON, UK - Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has given a big boost to UK bingo halls by halving the rate of tax. Rank, the parent company of Mecca Bingo, immediately announced they would be opening three new bingo halls in response to the tax cut.
UK bingo hall operators have been calling for a cut in the rate of gaming duty from 20% to 15% for years, arguing that there was no good reason why bingo should not be taxed at the same rate as all other gambling activities. The lobbying efforts paid off better than they could ever have expected when the rate was cut to 10%, lower than anyone in the industry thought realistically possible.
The Budget speech said that bingo was an important part of Britain and with the number of bingo halls falling three quarters in the past 30 years they need to be protected. "
The number of bingo halls has fallen by three-quarters over the last 30 years. The government recognises the important role that bingo clubs play in bringing local communities together, supporting employment and contributing to British culture. To support bingo and encourage investment, the government announces that the rate of bingo duty will be reduced to 10%," said Osborne.
Rank Group chief executive Ian Burke, who currently runs 97 bingo clubs, said: "Today's announcement is an important boost for Britain's bingo clubs, which provide a range of social and economic benefits for the communities they serve. By bringing bingo duty into line with other forms of gaming entertainment, the Government has created a basis for renewed investment and innovation.
"Rank has identified a number of towns and cities in Britain where, in the light of today's announcement, it would like to develop new clubs. Now the Group will complete more detailed market research, commercial negotiations, planning and licensing.
"Importantly, the new clubs will be used as a base for innovation, testing new concepts and new technologies to reposition its bingo clubs for the future. Rank's hope is that this process of innovation, research and development will trigger successive rounds of reinvestment nationwide."
While bingo halls did well in the Budget, betting shops were clobbered with an increase in tax on FOBTs (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals) - the casino machines in betting shops - from 20% to 25%.