Bingo Operators Want Fair Play

Bingo Operators Want Fair Play A quiet revolution is taking place in the UK bingo industry. For decades bingo halls were a traditional gathering place for working class women and pensioners. Players would gather once or twice a week in smoke filled bingo halls to play their favorite game. Traditional bingo games were well attended especially in the industrial town in northern England and at seaside resorts like Brighton. The 60s’ and 70s’ have been called the ‘golden age’ of bingo in the UK. Since then bingo has suffered a slow decline. In 2006 tragedy struck the bingo industry in the form of a national smoking ban. Some bingo halls reported a 60% drop in player numbers and dozens of halls were forced to close putting thousands out of work.

In the late 90s’ bingo staged a comeback by adopting new computer technologies. The first internet bingo site went online in 1996 and the rest is history. Software advances enabled operators to offer high quality games. In 2002 there were about 20 online bingo sites and today there are about 350. This has created fierce industry competition that has benefitted players in many ways. Jackpots are higher and operators are constantly creating new promotions and bonuses. The online bingo boom has done little to help the land based bingo industry.  Today about three million people in the UK play online bingo at least twice a week.

After the imposition of the smoking ban several large bingo hall operators launched their own online bingo operations to stay competitive and remain profitable. Recent research by Mintel and other has shown that today’s online bingo audience is primarily female and most players are in the 18-45 age group.  For years the online bingo industry has been subject to high taxation. Bingo operators pay a 20% tax while all other forms of gambling are taxed at 15%. Recently all-party Parliamentary Bingo Group met to discuss the issues faced by the bingo industry. The group was composed of 19 Members of Parliament and 48 members of the UKs Bingo Association.

The Bingo Association works with Bingo Hall operators and lobbies government officials and members of Parliament. The association has been pushing for a more equitable tax rates. Association members have pointed out that online bingo operators pay a 15% tax rate and feel that the 20% rate paid by brick and mortar bingo halls is unfair. Bingo halls are facing difficult times and every month one or two bingo halls are forced to close.

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