Bingo hall’s levy slashed to 10 per cent

The bingo industry did well from the budget. Picture: TSPL

The bingo industry did well from the budget. Picture: TSPL

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BINGO operators were celebrating as plans were unveiled to halve duty on the industry to 10 per cent.

Mr Osborne said the number of bingo halls has “plummeted” by three-quarters over the last 30 years, putting a strain on the sector.

The cut has brought the taxation of bingo in line with other forms of gambling such as sports betting, football pools and online gambling.

The Boost Bingo campaign, run by the Bingo Association, had been calling for the levy to be reduced to 15 per cent, gathering more than 330,000 petition signatures and the support of more than 50 MPs.

Mr Osborne told the house he would “exceed expectations” by delivering the bigger cut.

The move sparked an announcement by Mecca, one of Britain’s largest bingo operators, that it would expand as a direct result of the change.

Rank, which operates 97 Mecca Bingo clubs, said that as a result of the duty change it would be able to invest in the development of three new clubs and safeguard the future of a number of existing clubs.

Chief executive Ian Burke said: “Today’s announcement is an important boost for Britain’s bingo clubs, which provide a range of social and economic benefits for the communities they serve.

“By bringing bingo duty into line with other forms of gaming entertainment, the government has created a basis for renewed investment and innovation.”

Bingo Association chief executive Miles Baron said: “This is the most fantastic news. Everyone is absolutely delighted. The decision to reduce duty by 10 per cent means bingo clubs will get an even bigger boost than we had hoped for.”

Critics and opposition politicians, however, did not welcome the “bingo tax”, claiming it is a diversion from less palatable policies.

“Desperate diversionary tactics – flashing a threepenny bit and tweaking bingo tax – make it clearer than ever that we have a Westminster elite laughing as they gamble with people’s lives,” said Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and co-convener of the Scottish Greens.

“Bingo! Duty for a rapidly diminishing pastime has been cut by half to 10 per cent,” added William Nicholls, dealer at Capital Spreads, who dubbed the Chancellor’s announcements a “blue rinse budget”.

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