|In the UK, bingo operators have been upset by a government-sponsored television advertisement they claim is making fun of an industry brought to its knees by Westminster policies.|
The commercial for the National Lottery's new Flamin' Hot Bingo scratchcard shows an elderly lady on a mobility scooter driving past a derelict bingo club displaying a prominent ‘closed’ sign. A sudden scratchcard sound transforms the scene and the lady is magically transported to a Florida-style beachfront where she speeds around on a souped-up scooter.
Paul Talboys, Chief Executive of The Bingo Association, told 'The Telegraph' newspaper that he was ‘outraged’ by the advert. He said that the bingo industry in the UK is still reeling from a smoking ban, a reduction in the amount of jackpot machines and double taxation in the form of a 15 percent gross profits tax and a 17.5 percent value-added tax (VAT). The Association is campaigning for the removal of VAT, arguing that one in three of the nation's 600 clubs could close without fiscal help.
'The National Lottery is a Government-backed organisation,” said Talboys.
“Its decision to poke fun at the condition of the bingo industry is not just disappointing, it trivialises the very real distress caused to players and employees by the closure of their clubs.'
A spokesperson for the operators of the National Lottery, Camelot, denied that the advert was mocking club closures.
'It's only closed because it's early in the morning,' said the spokesperson.
However, a spokesperson for Rank, operators of the Mecca Bingo chain of clubs, told The Telegraph that this was not the connotation given by the advert.
'It is particularly distasteful that a State-sponsored gambling monopoly should publicly rejoice in the closure of bingo clubs,' said the spokesman.
'We urge the National Lottery to withdraw this deeply offensive advertisement.'