For years bingo operators in the UK have been subject to higher taxation than any other form of gambling. Bingo operators pay a 205 tax while casinos and bookmakers pay a 15% tax. This has been a sore point for bingo operators. Operators have lobbied Members of Parliament and regulators without success. So far the government has been unresponsive to requests for fair taxation of bingo. High taxation puts jobs and businesses at risk and high tax rates have been responsible for the closure of several bingo halls in the UK. Many people in the bingo industry are prepared to fight for a fair tax rate.
On April 24th there was an annual reception for the All Party Parliamentary Bingo Group. This was a major event for the bingo industry and allows representatives of the industry to make connections with politicians and government officials. There were 19 members of Parliament in attendance at the meeting and 48 representatives of the bingo industry. Hugh Robertson, the Minister for Sport and Gambling gave the keynote address. In his address Robertson pointed out that that bingo is a huge factor in the life of local communities and the government should recognize this fact.
Miles Baron, the Chief Executive of the Bingo Association, spoke on behalf of the bingo industry and stated “We are delighted to have held another successful parliamentary reception on bingo. The number of MPs who have attended has grown year on year and highlights the growing support we are gaining from within Westminster to tackle our tax rate. I would like to thank all my members who were able to attend and show their support and I have no doubts this year’s event will aid our continued lobbying efforts against the inequitable tax system levied on bingo.”
The fight for fair taxation is likely to continue for years to come. The government has been totally unresponsive to the pleas of the bingo industry. Bingo halls are also facing high fees for local licenses. A few years the laws were changed to allow cities and towns to charge whatever they want for local licenses. In many cases license fees doubled or tripled. The rise in fees caused several marginal bingo halls to close leaving many communities without a bingo hall. There is no doubt that the bingo industry will continue its fight for fair tax policies.