n five years, the number of UK clubs has dropped from 678 to 526, with 25 closing last year alone.
As well as emptier halls, clubs have suffered a double blow because fruit machines used to generate up to half their income. But revenue from using them has dropped a third to US$ 935 million a year because players go outside to smoke rather than play machines between games.
Accountants Ernst & Young warn that many clubs are close to a 1,000-visits-per-week “tipping point” and more drops could put them out of business. Profits halved from US$406 million in 2006 to US$ 203 million last year as players fell from US$8 million to US$4 million.
Paul Talboys of the Bingo Association says, “clubs cannot attract punters with big jackpots because profits are taxed more than other gambling.” He said cutting tax would save thousands of jobs.