After all the hand wringing about the decline of the live game that has gone on in the bingo industry recently, there has finally been a piece of good news. Rank, the entertainment company who owns the Mecca brand filed a complaint in 2006 with HM Revenue and Customs stating that adding VAT to interval bingo games specifically the ‘cash line games’ held in-between the main live bingo in the three years up to 2005 directly contravenes EU laws which control fiscal neutrality.
A court ruling has upheld this application for fairer taxation of bingo games and has resulted in a huge rebate of £36 million to the company. Mecca who have championed this debate since the outset and have encouraged players to sign petitions to the Prime Minister in order to verify the popularity of the game are said to be ‘very pleased’ with this result but what does it mean for the rest of the industry and how does this ruling affect the players?
Most companies involved in the bingo industry will now be hoping that this ruling will mean a fairer, perhaps more even, taxation of the game from the Treasury, but since the announcement by Gerry Sutcliffe as to the industry’s future promised some weeks ago now has not yet been made, it is impossible to tell which way the Government will decide; though it has been suggested that this rebate will hinder further legal support from the Government.
All this could mean that we could see the reinstatement of more £500 machines in live halls as the industry wants, so players have more choice over what to play during intervals. Responsible for £100 million worth of Rank’s revenue last year, these machines are a lifeline to the industry after the double taxation of player participation and with more money going into the companies who run the halls, the live game as we know and love it may just manage to stay afloat with less hall closures than previously imagined.
Bingo Hideout are interested in hearing all the views from our members on the plight of live bingo in our forum. Whether you’re a player of live bingo or not we’d like to know how you think the treatment of this sector of the industry is affecting online bingo or what more can be done to save local halls and the communities established within them.