It looks like another bingo hall is set to close this year, and the manager is making no bones about the cause of the club’s closure. General Manager Gary Bell is pointing his finger firmly at unfair bingo taxation.
He is quoted as stating that the extra 5% tax that his club pays on annual profits amounts to around £130,000, money that could be spent investing in the club. He says that the main reasons people go to bingo are to socialise and win prizes.
If bingo taxation is not changed and Portsmouth Crown Bingo, Kingston Road does close, it will be a loss not just to bingo, but also to cultural heritage. It is the only bingo hall left in Portsmouth, so players who want to continue playing will have to travel to either Cosham, Gosport or Havant to play.
The building itself has quite a history. Opened in 1910 as the Shaftsbury Hall, it became the Shaftsbury Hall Picture Palace in 1915, and after a couple of further changes of name and ownership we think it became a bingo hall in around 1959. If it did open then it must have been one of the first cinema to bingo conversions in the country, as most didn’t start until the big wave in the mid sixties when the Rank Organisation starting buying out cinemas across the UK.
Bingo halls only became legal around the turn of the decade when the Betting and Gaming Act 1960 was passed, which coincided with the mass popularity of television sets, the two factors contributing to the demise of cinemas. Initially the venue operated with both a cinema and bingo hall, but eventually in 1975 it went over to full time bingo.
We don’t have any photographs of the interior (if you do and would like top share them please leave a comment below) so we are not sure of how much of the original decor remains. The exterior looks in fair condition, so we are guessing that the interior is also in good shape.
If the building does close it is highly unlikely that it will be bought to be used again as either a bingo hall or a cinema. Now is not a great time to open a bingo hall due to the current economic climate and taxation, and there are already several cinemas open in Portsmouth.
The building is not listed, so anyone who purchases it can convert it to whatever they want as long as they receive planning permission. Most clubs are either converted into either pubs, or residential properties, very few become ‘community resources’, and many are either gutted or demolished in the process.
Sadly, this is another example of a hall that will most likely be lost for good as it joins the ranks of failing clubs. Please show your support for the Boost Bingo campaign against unfair taxation by clicking here. Original article.