Gala Bingo have recently rejoined the Bingo Association after a five year absence. They left in 2008, and I’m hoping that this return to the fold is a signal that bingo is going to get serious with the government over taxation issues. The Bingo Association is the main body for representation of the industry in a lobbying capacity. Unfortunately, to date the body has been unsuccessful in pressurising the government into dropping what many consider to be an unfair tax levy.
Gala Bingo is a fairly big employer, and is the UK’s largest chain, so the livelihoods of a large number of employees are in their hands. Gala’s return to the association will hopefully lend more weight to the struggle to reduce the tax levy to one that is the same as similar gaming industries.
The logic behind taxing bingo at a higher rate than other gaming outlets such as high street bookmakers is beyond many commentators. The effects of this unjust levy, coupled with the smoking ban have been felt over the years, leading to falling profits, and in many cases the closure of bingo clubs.
Whilst the smoking ban is arguably a good thing, and can be dealt with by the clubs, high taxation on the other hand is a real thorn in the side of the industry. With the threat from online bingo also present as well, land based bingo clubs really have their backs up against the wall. In short, for the industry to survive at all in the long term it needs a bit of a break, and a reduction in taxation is probably one of the only measures that can save the industry, and more importantly the jobs of many people for years to come.
Yes, we do know that we are in era of austerity, and we are not slaves to the ideals of Keynesian economics, but, sometimes you have to turn the tap up a bit, otherwise the garden becomes a desert. We do hope that Gala’s return to the Bingo Association heralds a return to the fight to save the industry, jobs, and an ailing but important part of our cultural heritage.