UK Bingo Halls Hit with New Fees

In 2006 several factors almost doomed the land based bingo industry in the United Kingdom. The global recession reduced the amount of disposable income that people could spend on entertainment. Then the national smoking ban all but emptied several land based bingo halls. As if that wasn’t bad enough an additional tax was levied on bingo making it the highest taxed form of gambling in the UK. The result was predictable; bingo halls across the country began to see reduced attendance at bingo games, profits were greatly reduced and many bingo halls closed their doors putting hundreds of workers out of work. Many players commented at the time that it seemed that the government was bent on destroying the land based bingo industry.

Today bingo halls are facing more obstacles; higher licensing fees and a 20% VAT tax. In the past bingo halls paid their licensing fees to the government but changes in gaming laws now allow town councils to levy licensing fees. In some towns licensing fees have risen as much as 60%. East Riding Council has raised the cost of a bingo license from £600 ($951.77 USD) to £1000 ($1,586.29 USD). Some towns charge as much as £4,000 ($6,345.18 USD) pounds for a license fee. Bingo halls already pressured by dwindling numbers fear for their survival. As cash strapped town councils look for new revenue streams most in the bingo industry expect fees to keep increasing. As licensing fees increase bingo halls will be forced to pass on additional costs to players making the game unaffordable for many.

Since internet bingo sites do not have the costs associated with maintaining and running a land based operation they are able to offer players lower priced games and much larger jackpots. This has made playing at bingo sites attractive for many and has contributed to the rapid growth of the online bingo industry. Brick and mortar bingo giants Gala and Mecca launched bingo sites to increase profitability. The rapid growth of online bingo has created jobs for software developers who supply games for bingo sites, internet marketers who promote bingo sites online, chat room moderators and many others. Recently a land based operator in Italy launched a network of bingo sites following the lead of UK bingo halls.

There has been one positive development for bingo halls. Many players at bingo sites now attend live games and it is now a common sight to see groups of younger players, daubers in hand, enjoying a live game of bingo.

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