Gambling Commission Sceptical of Pub Bingo
The UK’s retail bingo market was verging on extinction when chancellor George Osborne finally decided to treat operators fairly. Years of paying 20% tax have hit the market hard, with hundreds bingo halls forced into closure. The tax was even harder to bear because the retail bingo market was forced to pay higher than the standard 15% rate paid by most of the gambling industry, including online operators. Therefore, it is hard to understand why the Gambling Commission is currently holding back pubs from driving forward the retail bingo market.
Following the closure of hundreds of bingo halls, basic mathematics tells us that there are now fewer venues for members of the general public to go to play bingo. Quite simply, not enough bingo halls were unable to hold on before George Osborne finally displayed fairness to a market with much higher costs than online gambling operators.
Considering the lack of venues, it would seem logical that pubs would step in to lend their premises. Compared to traditional pub games, bingo would be much more welcoming for both men and women. Anyhow, more people can play bingo than those who can share a single pool table or darts board. Plus, bingo has social benefits, as anyone who played between the 1960s and 1990s will tell you.
Why is the Gambling Commission Opposing Pubs?
At present, UK pubs are legally allowed to operate bingo games that adhere to the stakes and prize guidelines stated in the 2005 Gambling Act. While they can operate games, they are greatly limited in what they can offer. The ideal solution would be to have the freedom of bingo chains like Gala and Mecca, but the Gambling Commission is opposing such an outcome.
Thus far, the Gambling Commission has been actively opposing the aspirations of UK pubs that apply for bingo operating licenses. A number of reasons have been quoted for licensing refusals, with the commission admitting that it wishes to take “a precautionary approach”.
However, the biggest concern really appears to be that the commission wishes to discourage an influx of thousands of applications from pubs. That would seem to suggest that the commission simply doesn’t want the extra workload, as they have admitted that there are no legal barriers to pubs applying for licenses. Excuses like scalability and vulnerability only come across as vague in this discussion.
Alcohol Apparently a Factor
On the topic of alcohol, the Gambling Commission seemed downright confused. The organisation believes that pubs are set up to sell alcohol and that the surroundings are not conducive to people wagering on “high stakes gambling”, either on machines or by participating in bingo games.
This is sure to be the most questionable of all the obstacles presented by the Gambling Commission, which has provided licenses to Gala and Mecca, both of which operate bars in their bingo halls throughout the UK. A simple visit to the website of either operator will tell you of how you can relax with drinks in the bar prior to playing bingo. Surely they should close their bars as they conflict with the views of the Gambling Commission.
Related: Find out why Gambling Commission halts bingo aspirations of greene king.