Vice Squad
Monday, June 11, 2007
Bingo's British Travails

Vice Squad noted some time ago that the smoking ban (already in place in Scotland, coming soon to the rest of Britain) was unwelcome from the point of view of bingo parlors. The Guardian's northern correspondent surveys the situation and finds that bingo halls might surprise you:
More than anything, bingo is good fun. My maternal grandmother used to be a regular player and would go to a bingo hall at least once a week. I never shared this passion, nor did my mother, as I wrongly assumed bingo halls would be full of pensioners. I was wrong, as it is one of those leisure pursuits that brings families together. When I went to a bingo hall recently, to write about the smoking ban, I was taken aback at how many young people were there. Young women with their friends, sisters, three generations of the same family; people who had become firm friends through their regular attendance at bingo. There were young men playing bingo with their girlfriends and they didn't look at all embarrassed.
Besides the smoking ban, bingo in Britain has to cope with the full implementation of the Gambling Act, which will increase license fees while also adding to competition from alternative forms of gambling, some of which are not taxed as heavily as bingo. A petition asking the government to protect bingo has attracted 230,000 signatures -- the Bingo Association, which was behind the petition drive, is spearheading an online campaign, too.

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