Bingo industry ecstatic at 10pc reduction in duty

General manager Janette McCraken at the Mecca Bingo Club on Aylsham Road, Norwich. Photo by Simon Fi

General manager Janette McCraken at the Mecca Bingo Club on Aylsham Road, Norwich. Photo by Simon Finlay. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A huge cheer went up at Mecca Bingo in Norwich yesterday as the manager took over the caller's microphone to announce a victory for the industry in the Budget.

Janette McCracken, told a crowd of hundreds at the hall in Aylsham Road that chancellor George Osborne had announced a reduction in bingo duty to 10pc, a better result than the 15pc lobbied for by MPs, those in the industry and its customers.

'It is fantastic news,' said Miss McCracken.

'We have been lobbying the government for ages now. It will just make such a big difference –this gives us the opportunity to invest in the business and make it a better experience for the customer.'

She said people who were at the club yesterday were delighted by the news, especially after signing a petition to help save the industry that was presented to the government last month.

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Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, was name-checked in the Budget speech for his work in lobbying for a reduction in the tax.

He said bingo has had a raw deal over the last few years, with a number of halls around the country closing.

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'Bingo has an enormous amount going for it,' said Mr Aldous.

'It's an opportunity for older people and people who live on their own to get out, have a lot of fun, have a meal, and socialise with people in friendly surroundings.

'There is a real worry that without it, they would be isolated in their homes.'

He cited Beacon Bingo in Lowestoft as a 'centre of entertainment' for generations.

'This is exactly the shot in the arm the industry needed,' said Mr Aldous.

'We were looking for the cut from 20pc to 15pc but to get it cut to 10pc was excellent – a very pleasant surprise.'

Patrick Duffy, managing director of Palatial Leisure, which owns the Palaces Bingo Clubs in Great Yarmouth and Felixstowe, also welcomed the news.

'We are absolutely ecstatic – regardless of politics, this is a case of a government that has actually listened to ordinary working people,' he said.

'The bingo business has been overtaxed for decades – but it's often the heart of the local community. Many generations of one family all play bingo together.'

He thanked the 49 MPs that had supported the campaign, including Mr Aldous and Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal.

'And hats off to the chancellor,' said Mr Duffy.

Miles Baron, chief executive of the Bingo Association, said: 'I would like to say an enormous thank you to the 330,000 people who backed the Boost Bingo campaign by signing our petition, to the dozens of MPs who visited their local clubs and asked questions in the House, to PLMR who supported us with our campaign, and of course to the chancellor.'

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