In March 2014 the UK Chancellor announced a major tax cut for the bingo sector in his Budget. The decision gave bingo halls the lowest gaming tax in the UK sector at 10% of gross profits. But in the years since that tax cut the bingo sector has failed to capitalise on it.
The Bingo Association stated that a lowering of the tax would allow bingo halls to “invest in their future” with more jobs and more “thriving bingo communities”.
Data from the Gambling Commission, however, shows that between March 2014 and March 2017:
• The number of employees has fallen from 14,069 to 12,433, as the number of clubs has decreased.
• Bingo turnover has fallen from GB£ 1.148 billion to GB£ 1.095 billion.
• Bingo GGY has fallen from GB£ 378.5 million to GB£ 368.8 million.
Rank, which runs Mecca Bingo, has seen its bingo visits decline from 12.6 million in FY 2013/14 to 10.5 million in FY 2016/17. But it has managed to increase the spend per visit from GB£ 18.19 to GB£ 20.93 in the same period.
Mecca’s revenues have fallen from GB£ 229.3 million to GB£ 213.6 million between FY 2013/14 and FY 2016/17.
Rank has spent around GB£ 9 million per year in capital investment in Mecca since 2014 but it is not substantially higher than the amounts spent prior to the tax cut e.g. GB£ 12.5 million in 2011/12, GB£ 9.6 million in 2012/13 and GB£ 5.9 million in 2013/14.
Tax is usually one of the key influences on the success of a gambling sector. But, so far, UK bingo has not managed to use the lower tax rate to reverse its fortunes.