So, the long awaited announcement is in. Bingo clubs in the UK have been given a small helping hand from the government in the form of an easing of restrictions on the amount of high stakes gaming machines allowed. The Gambling Act 2005 restricted the amount of these machines (classified as B3) allowed in clubs to 4. The loss of these machines has been a great concern for the industry due to the revenues these machines could generate in the intervals.
The Bingo Association has also published its response to the announcement. Despite it being quite a positive response from the association, they don’t miss an opportunity to mention the VAT issue. Still, now that the Government has shown a willingness to help the Bingo industry, it might not be so hard to get further concessions from them. There’s no date on when this can be implemented, but hopefully it won’t take to long to go through.
Now, I’m going to say how I feel about these high stake machines. To be honest I feel really uneasy about them being so important to the industry. I think the high cost of these machines is at odds with the cheap and cheerful entertainment aspect of Bingo. To me these machines represent a much stronger brand of gambling than the lower stakes machines. Personally I avoid them like the plague, but I can see the attraction to them to the machine players.
In a way this announcement has saved the industry having to think outside the box and come up with some more innovative ways to diversify, and in my opinion, this is little more than a sticking plaster for halls desperately in need of some new USP to attract new business. But that’s just me – it’s easy for me to say from the outside, and if this measure helps to save a few old clubs from going under, then it’s something I have to begrudgingly support.