|According to a piece in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, over 100 bingo clubs in the country have shut in the past three years with more than a dozen closing their doors over the past five months alone as the industry struggles with high rates of taxation.|
Quoting a study commissioned last year by the Bingo Association and carried out by the Henley Centre research group, the newspaper stated that more than three million people regularly play bingo in the UK. It said that major commercial chains such as Gala and Rank’s Mecca chain have seen their profits impacted by political and economic constraints with little hope until recently of receiving help from the Government.
Industry bosses reported that bingo was alone among gaming businesses in facing ‘double taxation’ as they were required to pay a duty on profits as well as a value-added tax. In addition, the industry is unhappy at having to reduce the number of profitable $972 jackpot machines under new Government gambling legislation.
The research also charted the effects that the closure of bingo clubs in Scotland and the Midlands had on the local population and found that older women in particular were suffering major ‘social’ consequences.
“For regular members, going out to bingo is the primary, and sometimes only, leisure activity out of the house,” read the study.
“While money is a key trigger to begin playing and remains an important motivation, the drive to play bingo regularly is largely orientated around a need for social interaction and belonging.”
“Yes, it's partly about winning money,” said Dawn Milton, a caller at the Harlow Bingo Club in Essex.
“But it's more than that. We're the only club for miles around and for some of our regular members it is also being part of a community.”