The bingo industry has managed to maintain a stable position in the global marketplace, despite constant changes and alterations in the overall gaming content sphere. The game of bingo is still considered to be a ‘soft form of gambling’, as the bulk of its player base is made up of adults and senior citizens who seek entertainment rather than a hefty payout. As a matter of fact, the average bingo players is more likely to spend money than make money, but the low stake requirements and the feeling of community it inevitably conveys have made this all the more appealing.
Tech advances in the modern society managed to transfer this social gaming form to the online platforms, opening new horizons and opportunities for progress. Nevertheless, this has also brought about novelties and a number of issues which need to be thoroughly and timely treated. For this purpose, a more regulated form of representation has ultimately come to existence in order to address all matters properly.
The Bingo Association
The climate for gaming franchises in the UK has been rather agreeable in recent times, and hence the need to regulate it as thoroughly as possible. After all, there is only so much to be benefited from bingo games provided on every platform, without having the protection of player and operator rights both.
Since its establishment back in the distant 1998, as a result of the merger between the British Bingo Operators’ Association and the Bingo Association of Great Britain, the Bingo Association has taken the form of a single representative body. In order to better regulate its goals and responsibilities, they have taken up a specific 12-point Code of Conduct. This covers areas ranging from the legal provisions that they should abide by, through the organizations that they should partner with and support, through charity or otherwise, all the way to the responsibilities they have towards their members and the UK macro bingo player base.
In regards to its general structure, there is one other notable segment of the Bingo Association that practically complements its operations. This is the National Bingo Game Association – its ‘sister organization’, as openly stated on their official website. While the Bingo Association is the dominant trade association for all bingo operators regardless of their size, the NBGA is focused on the gaming services altogether. Namely, this association is dedicated to providing the most up-to-date information regarding bingo player clubs, rewards and all other types of offers and services in a prompt and reliable manner. As a result, their daily deliveries are renewed twice a day, every day of the year with the exception of Christmas – it hardly gets any more transparent than that.
The Bingo Association Annual Meeting Roundup
The Bingo Association holds a general annual meeting that has the purpose of conjoining all as many members of the BA as possible, debating crucial and prevailing questions, and ultimately promoting collaboration and partnership. This year, on the 24th of May, it took the form of the Annual Charity Golf Day and Dinner, an event that is entirely in the spirit of the 12 points of the association’s Code of Conduct mentioned above.
With a whole-day program, the Bingo Association aimed to use this Annual Charity Golf Event to address the need for even greater collaboration among its member operators. Making it all the more appealing is the fact that the Association has offered a special deal to its members, but the ultimate motivator is the fact that each entry fee paid by a representative of a company will be partially donated to the children’s charity, Variety.
While less avid golf fans were simply able to enjoy the privilege of participating, the best in the area were provided suitable rewards from the numerous event sponsors.
Despite the predominantly charitable and entertainment element of the entire event, there are issues which had been addressed and will continue to seek suitable resolution. Such is the matter of the UK government’s taxation policy that discriminates between bingo establishments and the remainder of gambling content providers. Namely, the policy claims that the former are obligated to pay 20% tax on their revenues, whereas all remaining gambling-related companies, such as casinos and sportsbooks, have a 15% tax rate on their incomes. The process of debate among the BA members is only one in a series of actions that have been taken in relation to the resolution that prompted it all – The Gambling Act 2005.
Prior to this year’s annual BA event, relevant organizations have pointed out to this issue. In 2001, a report by the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee identified bingo as the relatively ‘soft’ gamble it is and the social dimension it takes, making it weigh towards entertainment rather than game of chance and risk. In more recent terms, the same committee has published a 2012 report called ‘The Gambling Act 2005: A bet worth taking?’ This had been a much harsher response to the taxation policies debilitating the bingo industry, but while efforts are being made, the situation is still largely open to debate and a number of scenarios.
The Team behind the Bingo Association
While the annual event is the Bingo Association’s highlight of the year, as these events are for any other organization, the team working day in and day out is just as crucial to the full understanding of its operations. While it is virtually impossible to go through the entire network of staff, outsourced personnel and similar employee profiles, there is something to be said about highlights, and the following two members of the top executive tier should provide significant insight into the team as a whole.
Since January 2017, the UK Bingo Association has been under the chairman leadership skills of Alan Morgan, who started off as a director at Mecca Bingo, one of the major companies under the organization’s umbrella membership. His takeover has been described as relatively smooth, yet from the early days of entering the role, Mr. Morgan’s main role has been identified in ‘providing guidance’ to the CEO and all other structures in the association. Placing an emphasis on the need to keep everyone informed about the most eminent issues in the industry, the current BA chair has managed to promote transparency to a higher level and advocate a possibility for future progress.
On a different note, the Company Secretary for the Association, Ms Cherry Hosking, has recently received her share of recognition. Namely, Ms Hosking has been nominated, and shortly afterwards awarded with the Compliance Officer of the Year Award on April 18. This award is part of the Gambling Compliance Global Regulatory Awards which recognizes and dully praises the individual’s dedication and involvement in this business sector.
While two isolated cases may seem short of an overview of such a massive structure, it does shed some light on the day-to-day workings and the level of professionalism present. With this in mind, future annual meetings and charitable events are bound to experience an even more massive impact on the UK bingo operator sphere.
‘Award Winning Compliance: Cherry Hosking wins Compliance Officer of The Year At 2018 Global Regulatory Awards’, Bingo Association
‘The Gambling Act 2005: A bet worth taking?’, Culture, Media and Sports Committee, Bingo Association
‘GETTING IT RIGHT. Code of Conduct for Social Responsibility 2017’, Bingo Association
WHO WE ARE, Nationa Bingo
‘1on1 with Alan Morgan at the UK Bingo Association’, James Walker