A blessed chance for stability, says Bingo Association chief

Miles Baron Bingo Association
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If the strength of the Conservative win stops the political flip-flopping and dizzying number of reshuffles, then consider Miles Baron of the Bingo Association a happy man.

 

It was the decisiveness of the Conservative Party’s victory which was to be celebrated by the Bingo Association’s Miles Baron – who sees in the new government’s mandate a real prospect to break the longstanding Brexit impasse.

“My initial response to the election is like that of most people – we now have an answer to the paralysis of the last few years and we can start to look ahead,” he told Coinslot.

Still, election night wasn’t without disappointment for Baron, who noted with sadness that former member of parliament for Redcar Labour’s Anna Turley had lost her seat. Turley had served as chair of the Bingo All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), and won Baron’s respect as “a great supporter of the Bingo Association and a lovely person to work with.”

This loss aside, in the short term Baron joins his Bacta equivalent John White in anticipating the Conservatives to make good on their manifesto pledge to revisit the Gambling Act, and thus “the Bingo Association will need to decide what it would like that act to look like.”

But Baron also sees the potential for bingo regulatory relief to be manifested in a number of other forms. “Bingo clubs would welcome support for the high street as retail leisure battles to compete in the digital age,” he remarked. “The detail of initiatives such as the Towns Fund, Rate reduction for small premises and the Cultural Investment Fund will all be of great interest.”

Still, that doesn’t mean the next parliament will be clear-sailing for bingo stakeholders: with Baron viewing the oft-talked-about prospect of mandatory levy on gambling revenues as posing a near-existential threat to the sector.

“It isn’t the mandatory element that is of most concern to us but the level at which it is set,” he explained. “The Bingo Association as one of the smaller gambling sectors (contributing around five per cent of overall GGY) would be vulnerable to any increase to the rate of the existing voluntary levy, to the extent that many bingo clubs would be under threat of closing.”

And of course, to ensure that this outcome is avoided – the hard work must begin apace.

“Whenever there is an election the industry has to start all over again in a fresh attempt to build understanding and relationships with new MPs and ministers in the new government,” Baron commented. “This will mean the fifth Secretary for State at the DCMS since 2015 and the fifth Minister with responsibility for gambling during the same period. Our lobbying mantra could be described as ‘here we go again,” so let’s hope for some stability this time!”


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