19/08/06 End of Bingo


Village hall bingo nights could be forced to pay for expensive licences under new legislation designed to regulate casinos.

Bingo, hundred clubs, village race nights and duck races could all be affected by the new legislation, forcing village hall volunteers to fill out complicated licensing paperwork.

Andrew Cooke, who helps run Fiskerton village hall, said: “I think this will have a big impact on village halls and some might stop running these types of events.

“In Fiskerton we have two bingo nights and they both raise money for much needed causes – the village hall maintenance fund and the village pre-school.

“There is already a lot of paperwork to fill out for people who run village halls and with each new bit of legislation passed we find it harder to get volunteers for the hall.”

The Gambling Act was passed in 2005 but is not due to come into force until autumn 2007, and local authorities have yet to decide exactly how the licensing system will work for village halls and community centres.

Each district authority decides individually how its system will work, so a community centre in Lincoln could face different rules to a village hall in Ruskington.

Amy Nichols, from the Community Council of Lincolnshire, said: “It is very confusing for small community groups. You have to remember that these people are almost all volunteers with no experience or expertise in gambling legislation and it is very hard for them.

“These days they have to fulfil equal rights legislation, disability legislation, fire regulations, licensing regulations and much more.

“While we don’t disagree with any of these ideas it places a huge burden on people who are doing something for the local community out of the goodness of their hearts.”

The Gambling Act comes just a year after the Licensing Act that requires many places that offer entertainment to get a licence from their local council.

A Gambling Commission spokesman said: “The definition of gambling is betting any money on the outcome of an event, so small village lotteries and bingo would come under the Act. But exactly what licences will be needed and their cost will be decided by local authorities.”

Lincoln city and North Kesteven district councils are both running a consultation period and will decide how to enforce the legislation after the consultation ends in September