Rochdale's bingo-ing mad at extra tax
Players and staff at Rochdale's Mecca Bingo are fighting what they believe is an unfair taxation rate on their winnings.
In his last budget, Chancellor Alistair Darling increased the tax on bingo winnings from 15% to 22%.
More than 700 players and staff at the Rochdale bingo hall have written to their MP Paul Rowen in a bid to get the taxation rate brought back down.
They are also angry that the levels have not been increased across the UK gaming industry, with bookmakers still running at the 15% mark.
There are worries that the increased tax could force prices up or even force some bingo halls to close altogether.
Paul Rowen MP said: "The campaigners have my full support and I cannot work out why the Government has to use predominantly female pensioners to raise revenue.
"Many people at Mecca told me how they enjoy the social aspect of bingo and in many cases it is their only chance to see friends and grab a bite to eat.
"This tax could lead to the closure of more of our bingo halls that provide the only sunshine in many people's lives.
"I am not calling for bookies duty to be increased, but bingo duty to be pegged at 15%.
"I have written to the Chancellor Alastair Darling calling for a re-think! I spoke earlier this year in Parliament backing the campaign to retain bingo halls. It's clear that the Government have in fact done the opposite and I will work hard to reverse this additional tax on our elderly."
Gary Taylor, Manager of Mecca Bingo in Rochdale, said: "Our customers just can't understand why the Government is targeting women. It just doesn't seem to be fair that someone can go to the bookies and place a bet and only pay 15% tax, whilst one of our customers has to pay 22%.
"To our customers, this is about so much more than just bingo. For some, this is the only opportunity they have to socialise with other people and it would be criminal if clubs are forced to close because the Government is discriminating against one of our favourite past times. That's why we are urging the Government to keep tax at 15% and not increase it to 22%."