Undoubtedly the greatest winner was the bingo industry which saw a cut in the rate of taxation from 20% down to 10%. Described by the chief executive of the Bingo Association as a "fantastic result" for the industry it is due reward for the sustained lobbying that the industry has carried out over many years seeking a reduction in the rate of tax. The reduction exceeds the industry's call for a 5% reduction with Mr Baron commenting that “Bingo operators identified a programme of investment that would be freed up by a 5% tax reduction. Now that we have secured a 10% reduction, operators will be relooking at their investment and modernisation plans, to stimulate the industry."
As the bingo industry celebrated the greater than expected reduction in their tax burden, the betting industry were left to ponder a further attack on the sector with an increase in taxation on category B2 machines, colloquially known as FOBT's. The tax burden was increased from 20% to 25%, with the consequence of almost immediate falls in the share prices for both Paddy Power and Ladbrokes. It is estimated that the increase will raise a further £75m from an industry that already pays in excess of £1billion in tax. The association of British Bookmakers were quick to respond saying that "thirty percent of our shops, and many are small family run businesses, make less than £300 in profit a week. This knee jerk and ill-considered tax raid means their futures are now on the line."
The increase also comes at a time when the industry are taking many positive steps to address the concerns surrounding the use of B2 machines with the launch of the ABB Code for Responsible Gambling and Player Protection, and major operators introducing the ability of players to limit their time playing and stakes wagered when playing these machines.
The hospitality and leisure sector has responded positively to the cut in beer duty, with Brigid Simmons Chief Executive of the BBPA describing it as "fantastic news" for "Britain's brewers, pubs and pub goers".
In addition to this apprenticeship grants for small business have been extended to support more apprenticeships, something that the BHA has been a long-time supporter of. Whilst these concessions were welcomed by Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA she has again highlighted the need for the government to increase the industry's competitiveness by funding more improvements to obtaining tourist and business visas (especially those from China) as we as seeking a much needed reduction in tourism VAT.
With the exception of the betting industry, where Cat B2 machines will continue to be the focus of attention, the hospitality and leisure sector will in general welcome the budget. Removing bureaucracy around visas and a reduction in VAT would unlock further potential for a sector that already makes a considerable contribution to the Chancellors coffers.