Anyone in the know will know that over the past few years the land based bingo industry has been suffering leading to the closure of many bingo halls. The perceived causes of the problem are the smoking ban, taxation, image, and the poor economy.
Obviously, nothing can be done about the smoking ban, and there are few who would argue that the decision whether or not to pass on passive smoke to non-smokers is a right of the individual. The poor economy is not a problem specific to bingo, many businesses have been suffering, but hopefully if and when there is an upturn there will be a positive impact on the bingo industry.
The issue of bingo’s blue rinse image has been addressed, but to date bingo halls have not been too successful in getting the younger generation through their doors. Having said that a recently advertised strip night in Catfords Mecca Bingo club may be a step in the right direction as the manageress has a strong vision of changing the perception of bingo halls by making them a more rounded entertainment experience. We will be closely following that one to see how the initiative pans out when it comes to getting younger players through the doors.
The one issue that can perhaps be addressed, is taxation, and after years of campaigning by the Bingo Association, the government may have actually sat up and listened. However, they may not have, they may have simply done their maths, and realised that by changing the taxation to a flat rate on all forms of bingo they will receive an increase in revenue.
Whatever the motivation, it would appear that a reduction to 15% taxation for land based bingo clubs is actually on the cards. And this should hopefully relieve the burden on many bingo halls. How they will do to use the retained extra 5% of income to maximise their profitability will be interesting to see. (If they have any sense they should also follow the plight of Mecca Catford in their attempt to drag bingo into the 21st Century).
Obviously the loss of land based revenue has to be picked up from somewhere, and in this case it will be an increase in revenue taken from online bingo companies due to a change in legislation. Currently, online bingo companies were taxed by location, and as the location of most gaming companies is overseas this means that the annual tax received is arguably a paltry amount. This is subject to revision, and tax will taken by location of the player, not the company they are playing with.
The result of the change is predicted to be a huge increase in revenue, even when the loss of the extra 5% from land based bingo halls is taken into consideration. So, it’s good news for land based bingo, but at the expense of online bingo. Any increase in taxation puts jobs at risk, however it is quite possible that overall, across the online and land bingo industry, the effect may be lessened in the long run under the newly proposed taxation changes.
By: Gareth Whieldon