Bingo halls demand jackpot rise to pounds 250,000

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The Independent Online
THE Government faces intense lobbying from the operators of the UK's 950 bingo halls over concern that takings from the pounds 1.2bn-a-year industry will be eroded by the National Lottery.

Despite analysts' estimates that the lottery will only scratch the surface of bingo revenue, the operators want to counter the threat by increasing the national jackpot prize from pounds 75,000 to pounds 250,000.

Nearly two-thirds of bingo halls offer customers the chance to win the jackpot.

Each hall plays the national game at the same time every night. The name of the winner from each club is fed into a central computer and the player winning the game with the lowest number of calls takes the prize.

Weekend reports said the lobbying was being spearheaded by the Bingo Association of Great Britain, whose secretary, John Beard, claimed the industry was prevented from competing fairly because of the low pounds 75,000 ceiling on its top prize.

The latest action follows years of lobbying by the industry for the relaxation of what it says are penal legislative constraints.

In particular, new bingo halls can advertise the fact that they are opening but are subsequently prevented from advertising the names of winners and amounts won. All customers have to be members and cannot play in their own right until 24 hours after applying for membership.