British Bingo Update!
The loyal Vice Squad reader keeps asking, hey, have there been any more developments concerning the harm to the British Bingo industry from the implementation of the smoking ban? Good news: the South Wales Echo has stepped up, reporting that bingo halls have seen a revenue decline of 15 to 20 percent. The article notes that the problem isn't just that bingo playing smokers are staying home, though some are (and perhaps engaging in internet gambling); rather, it is that those who still come to the Bingo parlour don't take part in the related on-site gambling during the fifteen minute break between Bingo sessions. Fears (both for Bingo parlours and for pubs more broadly) are that the situation could worsen in the winter, when people are less willing to step outside for a smoke.
One alcohol-serving club, according to the article, has responded to the smoking ban both by installing an outdoor smoking area, and by reducing the price of beer.
Speaking of gambling in Britain, September marks the completion of the implementation of the new gambling regulations. Among other things, internet gambling providers that meet the regulatory standards can now be licensed and legally advertise on television. One Telegraph columnist, noting how major British gambling providers have not licensed their internet operations in Britain, is unimpressed:
The point of the British licence is to encourage the world's casino websites to base themselves here, where they can be diligently regulated night and day by 50 compliance managers newly recruited for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. But of the thousands of online casino operators worldwide, only a handful - 14 the last time I looked - have applied for one.
Why? Because Brown decided to tax all British-based betting and casino sites at 15 per cent of gross profits. Not surprisingly, they have chosen to be based in much lower-taxed places, eg Malta, which taxes at a very acceptable 2.5 per cent.
Ladbrokes has not signed up for a British licence, nor has William Hill, which used to be based in Curacao, but now has moved to Malta. Oh - and since Malta is in the European Economic Association, it will be allowed to advertise on television.