Well we think the very existence of a tax on bingo is pretty weird, frankly. Why is bingo subject to a peculiar tax all of its own? Anyway, Alistair Darling surprisingly announced a cut in bingo tax from 22 to 20% this afternoon. Of course we welcome this announcement so far as it goes.
Typically of many of this Labour Government’s moves there is more interest when you look at the history. It was only recently that the rate was actually 15%. So in one month they add 7% and then expect plaudits for taking 2% back off some months later.
It’s pretty shady practice really when you think about it.
We think that legal activities and games played by consenting adults shouldn’t really be brought into the tax arena. It is a way of stigmatising a perfectly legitimate activity through the tax system in a way that is usually reserved for things like smoking and drinking. Bingo is a harmless and fun way for people to spend their time. At the margins, sure, there are those who are addicted – but taxing merely serves to exacerbate the problem, as their habit becomes more expensive to maintain.
It’s a knee-jerk policy applied to something that really should be tackled through education and information. As ever, the long view is disregarded in favour of populist tosh.
[AFTERTHOUGHT: of course, in trademarked NuLab style, online bingo operators like 888 Ladies or Foxy Bingo just locate their operations overseas – creating a double whammy of a drop in tax revenue and UK job losses. They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.]