Future uncertain as MP warns of industry crisis

PUBLISHED: 15:37 01 February 2008 | UPDATED: 12:18 29 April 2010

AS a Fenland bingo club changes hands - and uncertainty continues over its future use - the MP for North-East Cambridgeshire, Malcolm Moss, has warned of a crisis in the industry. Mr Moss told the House of Commons that the level of taxation has been a pr

AS a Fenland bingo club changes hands - and uncertainty continues over its future use - the MP for North-East Cambridgeshire, Malcolm Moss, has warned of a crisis in the industry.

Mr Moss told the House of Commons that the level of taxation "has been a primary cause in the closure of 81 clubs and the identification of 108 clubs at risk".

His comments came as the Hippodrome, March, celebrated its final weekend as part of the Empire Bingo Club in Wisbech, both owned by Norman Jacobs.

"Bingo is the only mainstream gambling product that is doubly taxed, by VAT as well as gross profits tax," said Mr Moss.

He argued that since each closure costs the Treasury some £700,000 in lost tax revenues, surely the Government could see the sense of removing this unfair imposition of VAT on bingo.

"That would be tax revenue-neutral, would prevent further club closures and would secure this popular leisure activity for thousands of people," he said.

Angela Eagle, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, said: "Obviously, we keep all taxes under review and decisions about gambling taxes are made at the budget.

"It is not at all clear that removing VAT on participation fees would be enough to make some of the marginal clubs viable."

She also pointed out that bingo was not the only gambling sector to face both duty and VAT.

"Gaming machines are liable to VAT and amusement machine licence duty," she said.

"In 2003, bingo saw a big reduction in its effective tax rate from 35 per cent. to a rate that ranges between 20 and 25 per cent. That is in line with all the other tax impositions on other forms of gambling.

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