Scottish First Minister Backs Bingo, Rank Rejects Harrah’s

Alongside the excitement of the Bingo Caller Of The Year competition, a couple of other stories caught my eye over the weekend relating to Bingo’s ongoing plight. The first one includes a Bingo caller who’s a long way from entering the big event, but none the less could have some an important part to play in helping to improve the taxing regime behind Bingo.

That Bingo caller is Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister. OK, so he’s better known as a politician than a caller, but last week he took the stage to call a game of Bingo and pledge his support to the Bingo industry. He spoke of his will to challenge the current Chancellor to do something about the way Bingo is taxed twice unlike others in the gaming industry. This Is North Scotland reports the First Minister commented that “I don’t understand how you can have a situation where a good, working-class innocent pastime like bingo playing gets taxed more than casinos, which clearly are more controversial and problematic.”

Personally, it’s good to hear someone in a position of power make the connection between class and the game. Given New Labour’s seeming disconnect from its roots, the parallel may help spur them on to tackle the taxation issue and do something of benefit to your average Joe Public Bingo player. The last year they’ve been feeling under the cosh with their smoking and favourite machines gone.

In other news, Rank has rejected a proposal from the American casino operator Harrah’s Entertainment. The Telegraph reports that the Harrah’s made Rank an offer in sell a portion of its LCI casinos in return for a 28% stake in Rank. The Telegraph’s article goes in to Harrah’s proposal in more detail.

It’s interesting to see that other companies such as Ladbrokes and William Hill are being mooted as possible merger material for Rank. If I remember correctly, William Hill pulled out of the running earlier this year, but maybe they have reconsidered. It will be interesting to see what happens to Rank in coming months following continued warnings of falling revenues and attendances – let’s hope my old employer can pull through it with some style and innovation.

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