Five Scots bingo halls shut as smoking ban drives players out
It has emerged that Scottish BINGO clubs are being forced out of business by the recent smoking ban.
As a result of the ban 3 months ago reports show a decrease of up to 27 percent in revenue, with five clubs now having to close their doors.
The Bingo Association backed the ban but now industry chiefs are warning more will close and say they want tax breaks to help them keep going.
Scotland 's biggest independent bingo operator has shut down two halls, in Edinburgh and Dunfermline. The Dunfermline hall, in Fife Leisure Park, only opened a year ago.
The Inverness firm, who employ more than 500 people in Scotland, say revenues have plummeted as customers use time between games to go outside for a smoke instead of spending cash in the halls.
Managing director Peter Perrins said: "Players arrive late, depart earlier and take any opportunity to exit the building in pursuit of their nicotine fix.
"Tabletop bingo and gaming machines form a significant part of the business and these have begun hemorrhaging money."
Another operator has now closed their bingo halls in Stirlingshire, Fife and Lanark.
Operations manager Mike Lowe said: "Within four weeks of the ban being introduced, it was apparent business would be devastated and extreme measures would need to be taken.
"I have recorded as many as 47 per cent of players leaving a session in order to smoke. The coming months are a great concern and I do not feel we have seen the worst effects of the ban yet."
Bingo Association chairman Sir Peter Fry said they recognized the benefit of a smoking ban to the country's health.
But he added: "This doesn't hide the fact that a total ban in its initial years will be one of the greatest challenges the industry has had. It is clear many clubs will not survive this difficult transition."
The industry, who employ 22,000 people across the UK, are calling for temporary relief on the VAT they pay to the Treasury.
A Bingo Association spokesman said: "You can take your pint out into the beer garden or pavement table and have a smoke but you have to be in the hall to play bingo."