Is the number up for bingo hall?

BINGO halls could be forced to close as a result of a seven per cent increase in taxation. More than 600 customers and employees at Mecca Bingo in Stevenage have written to Barbara Follett, MP for the town, asking for support in demanding the Government o

BINGO halls could be forced to close as a result of a seven per cent increase in taxation.

More than 600 customers and employees at Mecca Bingo in Stevenage have written to Barbara Follett, MP for the town, asking for support in demanding the Government overturns its decision to raise the rate of bingo duty from 15 per cent to 22 per cent.

The rise, announced by Alistair Darling in his Budget statement in April, means bingo is now Britain's most heavily taxed form of gaming.

Sue Baker, operations manager at Mecca Bingo in Stevenage, said: "I do not know why the Government has chosen to discriminate against bingo, but I do know that in these difficult times it can be immensely damaging.


You may also want to watch:


"I really enjoy working at my local club and am worried the Government's attack on Britain's bingo industry could lead to me losing my job after 32 years, if our club is forced to close."

The smoking ban, a reduction in �500 jackpot machines and the recession have already forced bingo clubs to the wall.

Most Read

Numbers are down from almost 700 in 2003 to about 585 today in an industry that employs 17,000 people.

Tracey Wilsmore, manager of Mecca Bingo in Stevenage, said the Government is targeting women, adding that it is not fair that someone can go to the bookies and place a bet and only pay 15 per cent tax, while a bingo player has to pay 22 per cent.

She said: "To our customers, this is about so much more than bingo. For some, this is the only opportunity they have to socialise with other people and it would be criminal if clubs are forced to close because the Government is discriminating against one of the nation's favourite past times."

However, Treasury ministers have reportedly told Mecca Bingo that they are not concerned if people lose their jobs through club closures as these are assumed to be compensated for by job creation elsewhere in the economy.

Ms Baker said: "I find this uncaring attitude very hard to take, and they obviously don't understand how much bingo means to people.

"If clubs close, not only will employees like me suffer, but millions of our customers will lose something special in their lives.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter