Posted March 19, 2014 by John Baintree in News

Budget: Chancellor announces reduction in gaming tax paid by bingo halls

Chancellor announces reduction in gaming tax paid by bingo halls
Chancellor announces reduction in gaming tax paid by bingo halls

Chancellor George Osborne has announced his fifth budget today amidst the usual round of euphoria on the one hand and expected criticism on the other. There had been much comment recently about what to expect and what not to expect. Plenty of the “tax this more” and “tax that more” sentiments with some surprising giveaways – how does a penny of the prove of a pint of cider sound?

Perhaps particularly unexpected was an announcement about changes in the duty paid by bingo hall owners. Osborne has announced a change in duty worth an estimated £35m to the bingo industry. Not affecting online bingo or small independent operators, the larger chains will see the way tax is levied change.

A group of more than 50 MPs have been working alongside the Bingo Association to secure changes in the way the industry is taxed. After an effective campaign George Osborne made his announcements from the ballot box in today’s budget speech.

A new tax has been introduced where bingo hall operators will pay 15% of their gross profits as opposed to the 10% tax currently levied on ticket process and funds added to the prize pot. Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Healy MP believes the changes will “…give bingo clubs the opportunity to deliver higher prizes and lower process to millions of players”.

In the few hours since the announcement there have been a number of responses to the new tax. The Bingo Association – representing the chain Bingo companies hit a downbeat tone by saying that it was regrettable that the Government had not taken the opportunity to address the VAT currently charged on bingo. They claim that the last rise, to 20% was responsible for more than 2,000 job losses in the industry. Numbers that were somewhat backed up by the Gambling Commission themselves.

Bingo hall operator Rank Group has also announced plans for three new clubs as a result of the cuts. Well, they certainly got their act together quickly on that one! Rank Group CEO Ian Burke stated that the future of his groups existing 97 Mecca branded clubs was now more secure.