Until 2008 the UK government had a levy of just 15% on bingo, but an increase in taxes in the 2009 budget saw this rise by almost 50% to 22%. An amazing increase that was lobbied throughout 2009 and the 2010 saw this tax brought down to 20%, promoting an uneasy truce between the live bingo operators and the taxman.
However, as of right now a group of 54 MPs in the government are backing calls from the industry lobby group The Bingo Association to have this figure dropped to be in line with rest of the gambling industry. As things stand, the profits made by Bingo Halls in the UK are taxed at 20%, while bookmakers and fixed odds betting operators are taxed at just 15% with that figure dropping to just 12% on lottery ticket prices.
The Bingo Association claim this excessive tax rate for the bingo halls compared with the rest of the industry is one of the major reasons for the closure of the bingo halls in the UK. The rate of closure currently stands at an average one per month and with more than 16,000 people employed in the industry the lobby group has the support of a number of members of parliament from across the political spectrum.
The Bingo Association goes on to claim that bingo halls are unable to reclaim VAT on the costs of refurbishing and upkeep of the clubs and this is added to their woes and closure rates. The government is reluctant about dropping the tax levels at the moment as they look to close the budget deficit. Will this spell the end of live bingo games?
If the tax cuts do not come in and the popularity of online bingo continues to rise there is a distinct possibility that live bingo games could become an endangered species. There have already been more 1,800 jobs lost in the live bingo industry since 2010 so the situation is certainly getting desperate.
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Lillian Grey is a long time online bingo and slots player who started putting her thoughts down on digitial paper around 2008. Having been covering the industry for quite some time, she is able to spot the good from the bad when it comes to online bingo.