There’s a cracking letter from Dolores Murray in the Tribune, all about bingo.
Dolores is now known as a stalwart of the OAP popgroup the Zimmers, but it was bingo that started it all. She was involved in a protest about Mecca’s plans to close the local bingo hall. Being Dolores she didn’t let it go, but organised a sit-in at Mecca’s HQ. A filmmaker was looking for feisty pensioners to challenge images of ageing, he found Dolores, and from his film, the Zimmers were born.
Dolores is an amazing woman. A foster carer for decades, she has also run anti-crime schemes in her neighbourhood and has won numerous awards. It was my privilege to work with her on our successful campaign to Save Essex Road Post Office.
Now Dolores is back battling for bingo. The Government has introduced a higher rate of tax on bingo halls compared to other forms of gambling, because it charges VAT as well as the gambling tax. So while gambling in betting shop is taxed at 15%, bingo in the hall across the road is taxed at 22%. It’s just not fair.
Going to bingo halls is primarily a social activity, as Dolores points out. Online bingo, which is taxed at the lower 15% rate, may be taking off; but it is solitary, more likely to be addictive, requires an home IT setup – and pushes all the operational costs onto the bingo player.
This taxation policy is literally anti-social. Will someone give Gordon Brown an ASBO?