UK Budget Will Affect Online and Land Based Bingo
In the UK bingo has spawned two distinct industries; the land based bingo industry and the online bingo industry. Government policy regarding bingo has hurt the land based industry while at the same time helping the online bingo industry. The government’s policy of double taxation for bingo halls across the country has prompted many independent bingo operators to close their doors with a resulting loss of jobs. The taxation policy follows the national smoking ban which has had a disastrous effect on high street bingo clubs throughout the nation. While most gaming parlors pay about 15% bingo proprietors are forced to pay taxes amounting to 30% which bingo providers rightfully consider unfair.
Bingo is big business in the UK and is played by three million people every week and the industry employs 16,000 workers. In addition the bingo industry generates revenues of billions of pounds every year. Tory and Labour MP’s have voiced their support for the bingo industry and Chancellor Darling made a move in the right direction when he abandoned the Value Added Tax on bingo. It is estimated that this reduction will save the gaming industry including bingo about 50 million pounds annually. Unfortunately the government has seen fit to introduce new tax measures which can easily wipe out the slight gains made by the bingo industry. Unemployment is already high in the UK and no one wants to add bingo club workers to the rolls of the unemployed.
While the land based bingo industry suffers the online bingo industry is flourishing. It seems that every government action that has hurt the brick and mortar bingo industry has benefited the online bingo industry. The smoking ban sent former land based players flocking to online bingo sites. Since the online bingo industry is not taxed and does not have all the expenses of traditional bingo halls they are able to offer online players a wide variety of benefits and incentives. Most online bingo providers take these savings and offer players generous deposit bonuses, higher jackpots and top of the line prizes such as new cars and luxury vacations. There are now over 250 online bingo sites serving the UK market and the industry is now worth a cool billion dollars a year and is growing. While the UK government has made slight moves to relieve the land based bingo industry it may be too late to save the bingo halls that have already closed.
By Anthony Wayne
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