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UK Bingo Halls in Jeopardy

UK Bingo Halls in Jeopardy

Written by: ava carson on 23/07/2012 21:35

Due to tax increases and the economy bingo clubs around the UK face a critical decision of closing their doors. It is predicted that one in three bingo clubs in the UK face closure as a result.

According to the Bingo Association, 170 of the UK’s 476 halls which make less than £70,000 yearly profits are in jeopardy of closing down over the next three years if the government does not comply and reduce taxes.
 
“The current taxation regime is a disaster – when you consider that an average club employs around 30 people and probably needs to re-invest around £1m in capex in order to modernise and stay competitive then £70,000 [profit] is not much at all,” said Paul Talboys, chief executive of the Bingo Association.

“The ones in trouble tend to be smaller bingo clubs which are much more entrenched in the local community.”

Located in Didcot, 30-year-old family-run bingo hall, New Coronet Bingo, has concerns about the future.

“Our existence is year to year at the moment,” said Paul Carpenter, the Coronet’s owner. “Up until last year we were facing closure, getting by on £15,000 profit a year and our savings.”

As it stands on average more than bingo halls are closing per year in part due to a new generation of bingo players playing at online bingo sites.

Mecca Bingo a giant in the industry, spent £50m revamping some of its 97 clubs to draw in a younger crowd and create a more exciting image with a nightclub lounge, live music and more slot machines.

“We see life in the market,” said Mark Jones, Mecca’s managing director, adding that no new bingo clubs have been built since 2009.

“The whole industry would benefit from a lower tax rate … we haven’t been building new clubs and that’s one thing we’d like to do – the fact there is no new builds is worrying for the future of the industry,” he said.

Mr Talboys said: “Government talks about the Big Society and these clubs are one of the few places where single ladies can go on their own and chat – when they’re gone they aren’t replaced.”
 

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