or years the UK bingo industry had been calling on the government to take action on the so-called 'double taxation' of bingo which was subject to taxation on both gross profits and VAT, unlike other forms of gambling.
In this year's 2009 Budget, campaigners for the abolishment of the 'unfair' VAT bingo tax were finally rewarded for their efforts when the UK government announced that participation fees for bingo would no longer be subject to VAT. However the government announced instead that bingo gaming duties would rise from 15% to 22%.
Shocked at the latest government action to befall the industry, bingo supporters gathered at the Houses of Parliament earlier this month to protest against the bingo tax increases. A crowd of over 500 people, including a number of MPs and representatives of the UK's biggest bingo companies, turned up for the event.
Last week however MP's voted overwhelmingly against an amendment to the Finance Bill, introduced by Scottish National Party Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie MP, that would have stopped the government from increasing the bingo tax from 15% to 22%. The amendment was defeated by 283 votes to 83.
"Labour has hung the bingo industry out to dry. This amendment was a chance to do the right thing by the bingo industry and they have failed," said Mr Hosie. "This unfair taxation is incredibly damaging to this industry, forcing clubs to close and jobs to be lost across the country. These are difficult times for the entire sector and the UK Government should be supporting the sector rather than contributing to its hardship.
"Other gambling products are taxed at a 15% but the UK Government insists on making licensed bingo an exception to the rule. Financial problems in the industry will not only mean job losses, but also the loss of important places to meet and socialise. Especially in small towns, closing the bingo club can rip a social hub out of an area.
"The SNP has kept up the pressure on the UK Government to play fair and end this unjust levy. Labour could have held out a helping hand to the bingo industry today but instead they walked by on the other side."
In light of the severe problems facing the industry as a result of the UK smoking ban, as well as the introduction of the new Gambling Act, many in the industry are expecting even further club closures as a result of the bingo tax increases, with industry leaders Rank and Gala Coral set to continue their struggles this year.