Great Yarmouth MP backs bid to boost bingo

MP Brandon Lewis joining the campaign to cut the tax paid paid by bingo companies to help them compete better with other gambling leisure pursuits. Picture: James Bass MP Brandon Lewis joining the campaign to cut the tax paid paid by bingo companies to help them compete better with other gambling leisure pursuits. Picture: James Bass

Saturday, January 18, 2014
12:44 PM

Yarmouth bingo lovers have joined a national campaign calling on the Government to lower tax on bingo.

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The ‘Boost Bingo’ campaign, which was simultaneously launched at nearly 400 clubs across the country, is supported by Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis. It aims to highlight that bingo clubs currently pay 20pc tax, which is a higher rate than the 15pc paid by casinos and betting shops.

Bingo players have been invited to sign a petition to be delivered to 10 Downing Street, and organisers are optimistic that they can reach a million signatures.

It is hoped that by lowering bingo duty to 15pc, in line with other gambling venues, there will be greater investment in the industry. Campaigners argue that bingo halls provide a local service which is invaluable to the community, particularly for people living alone and the elderly.

Neil Cox, General Manager of the Palace Bingo Club in Great Yarmouth, believes this campaign is crucial for the future of bingo. He said: “The industry needs to move forwards but sadly we’ve seen lots of bingo halls closing in the local area over the last few years.

“This campaign is about fairness and equality for bingo so that we can continue to create local jobs. It is gambling, but it’s one of the softest forms of gambling around and it’s much more than that, it’s an opportunity for the community to come together and have fun. ”

MP Brandon Lewis visited the club and described the popular venue as a “community asset”. He also expressed his delight at being able to support the campaign and pointed out its importance to the town.

He said: “Great Yarmouth, and indeed all communities, are best when they come together, and bingo provides an opportunity to do that like very few other leisure activities do.

“It provides an opportunity for people to sit down and relax with friends. We should do all we can to support that and I’m very happy to support bingo.”

Barbara Yerrell, 87, from Yarmouth, is a regular at the club. Mrs Yerrell, who lives alone and relies on a mobility scooter to get around, says bingo is a lifeline for older people.

“A large percentage of the people who come here are elderly,” she explained. “It’s somewhere to come, there’s always a friendly atmosphere and you can get a hot meal.

“There’s nowhere in Yarmouth for elderly people to go and it’s just so nice to be able to come out and mix with people when you live alone.”

People are invited to sign the petition at the Palace Bingo Club, which will be delivered along with petitions from clubs accross the country to Downing Street next month.

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