New UK Report Recommends Bingo Tax Changes

For years the UK bingo association has tried to get Parliament to lower the tax rates levied against live bingo halls in the UK. In addition to high taxation bingo halls also face higher local licensing fees and a new tax on slots. A few bingo halls have reported that a large portion of their income is generated by slots and the new tax lowers their profits significantly. Many bingo halls are walking a financial tightrope and even the slightest increase in fees or taxes could force them to close. In the UK bingo is taxed at 20% and all other forms of gambling are taxed at 15%. So far there has been no logical explanation for the high taxes paid by bingo operators.

A recent report by the Department of Culture Media and Sport titled “The Gambling Act 2005: A bet worth taking?” says that bingo should be taxed at the same rate as other forms of gambling. The statement has the full backing of the UK Bingo Association which has been trying to establish tax parity for years. The report contains an extensive review of the gambling act and has assessed the development, implementation, enforcement and impact on operators and consumers and makes several recommendations.

In section three of the report, the industry, tax and regulation, the report documents the history of the tax levied against bingo halls and the industry in general. The report states “In 2003, bingo taxation was reformed in order to bring it in line with the wider industry: turnover tax was abolished and bingo was subject to a gross profits tax (GPT), charged at 15%. VAT charges were removed later. In 2009, the Government increased bingo GPT from 15% to 22%. In 2010 this rate was reduced to 20% because of industry complaints that 22% was too high” The report goes on to say that bingo is considered by most as a ‘soft’ form of gambling and recommends that the Treasury assess and investigate the position of the bingo industry during the next financial year.

Paul Talboys, the Chief Executive of the Bingo Association, discussed the report and stated “We are pleased that the Select Committee has recognised that bingo should be taxed at 15%, bringing it in line with the other forms of gambling in the UK. We remain convinced that a fair tax regime which supports UK jobs and stimulates local economies can only be achieved by introducing a single rate of tax for all products governed by The Gambling Act. In moving forward to create a sector with a genuinely ‘level playing field’ it will be essential for all involved, that the DCMS and Treasury, who are responsible for creating the framework (regulatory and tax) that the industry operates within, work together in a co-operative and considered manner.”

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