Gambling Commission Halts Bingo Aspirations of Greene King
The traditional format of bingo has been under threat in the UK since the launch of the National Lottery in 1994, and the latter introduction of the indoor smoking ban. These factors stimulated an initial decline in attendance that led to the closing down of hundreds of bingo halls. Additionally, a 20% tax rate on bingo halls also pushed them to the brink, with all other UK gambling operators paying just 15% or less.
But salvation emerged in March 2014 with the announcement from chancellor George Osborne that tax on retail bingo would decrease from 20% to 10%. Driving his decision was the desire to ensure the survival of bingo halls, with just a couple of hundred left throughout the entire UK. That change in tax inspired brewers Greene King to bring bingo to the nation once again, via their national network of pubs. However, the UK Gambling Commission has halted the plans of Greene King.
Strict Guidelines for Pub Bingo
Legally, the Gambling Act 2005 permits pubs in the UK to host bingo games, albeit under strict guidelines. Most notably, the Gambling Commission has already set all participation fees and prize limits. To summarise, pubs have no freedom to alter the limits and they must strictly work within them. That is, unless the Gambling Commission grants a specialist bingo license to a pub.
As an operator of some 1,000 pubs throughout the UK, Greene King would have been the ideal advocate to bring traditional back to the masses. As for the plans of the brewery, Greene King had intended to bring in unlimited stakes and to create a linked jackpot that could be won in all of its participating pubs throughout the country. The plan was to create the linked jackpot and let punters play for it by the aid of electronic devices.
Concern for Playing Bingo in Pubs
With all of its interesting ideas, Greene King submitted an application to try and attain the correct licensing. However, the Gambling Commission rejected the application because they were concerned about developing bingo in pubs. Additionally, the commission was also worried that hundreds of applications would follow an approval for Greene King.
The decision of the Gambling Commission is particularly jarring because Greene King was attempting to improve game of bingo while also providing friendly entertainment for its customers. The brewery had the following to say: “We were disappointed with [their] decision not to grant us a license and we are therefore appealing that decision.”
Greene King Appeal Underway
True to their word, Green King has launched an appeal to a tribunal in an attempt to reverse the refusal of the commission. Greene King is arguing that the decision is not based on solid evidence. Experts close to the case have agreed that the brewer stands a chance of overturning the decision. Leading up to the tribunal, the Gambling Commission is refusing to comment. According to the Morning Advertiser, the commission is said to be currently reviewing its licenses in relation to commercial bingo.
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