Thursday, 17 February 2011

ASH's Contribution To Bingo: Thousands On The Dole

I haven't done this for a while, but an article which nearly passed me by has prompted yet another look at the now legendary ASH-drafted document, Myths and Reality of Smokefree England. Here's their take on bingo.

Myth: It will be bad for bingo

In the lead up to the smoking ban, pro smoking groups argued that the smokefree legislation was going to be particularly detrimental for both the profitability and long term outcomes of Bingo, with smokers more likely to stay home and use online gaming sites.

Reality: Gaming group Rank, which has 86 clubs in England said it was encouraged by performance at its Mecca bingo, with company shares up by 8.75%.
What ASH omitted, as is their wont, is that their own reference actually reported a decline in fortune for Mecca immediately following the ban.

Like-for-like revenues fell by 4.4 per cent at its English bingo clubs in the first weeks of the ban
Three and a bit years on, the true 'profitability and long term outcomes' of the industry can be assessed. And it's not pretty.

TWO bingo halls a month are closing and hundreds are ­fighting for survival because of plunging attendance figures.

A new study shows that profits in Britain’s once-booming bingo ­industry have nosedived since the smoking ban in July 2007.

As well as emptier halls, clubs have suffered a double blow ­because fruit machines used to generate up to half their income. But revenue from ­using them has dropped a third to ­£575million a year because players go outside to smoke rather than play machines between games.

In five years the number of UK clubs has dropped from 678 to 526 – with 25 closing last year alone.

Accountants Ernst & Young warn that many clubs are close to a 1,000-visits-per-week “tipping point” and more drops could put them out of business.

Profits halved from £250million in 2006 to ­£125million last year as ­players fell from five million to 2.5 ­million.
I think we can now safely say that ASH were comprehensively wrong on that particular myth reality. But then, as VGIF observed in May last year.

Myths and Realities of Smokefree England already has the makings of a fascinating historical document. With one or two possible exceptions that can be argued over, all of the so-called 'myths' have turned out to be true and all of ASH's 'realities' have turned out to be myths. And it took less than 3 years.

With the review of the smoking ban coming up in July, one would hope that the chasm between what ASH said would happen and what actually happened might come under scrutiny. It should certainly make policy-makers question ASH's credibility when it comes to passing further laws.
Well, you'd think so, wouldn't you? Especially considering this woeful incompetence is financed by large sums of - now scarce - public money.

And incompetence it truly is since the original report reveals a human cost** not mentioned by the Mirror.

In line with the negative trend within the bingo industry and the continued evidence of club closures, industry employment has fallen in recent years. There were 12,256 employees in the industry in 2009. This represents a decline of 29% from the 2006 figure of 17,152 employees
That's a very precise figure (unlike the pretend numbers ASH routinely pull out of their derrières) of nearly 5,000 real, productive job losses attributable to hideous bastards such as ASH and their fellow tobacco control tax scroungers. It could be worse too, as this only counts those directly employed - the report also points to 0.76 losses in supply trades for every employee lost to the bingo industry.

And just to further highlight the objectionable nature of policies promoted by anti-smoking rent-seekers.

[...] the greatest proportion of bingo clubs are located in areas with relatively low median earnings. It therefore follows that a reduction in employment in the bingo industry is likely to be concentrated in low income areas.
Yes, that's right. ASH - who perpetually attempt to justify their lucre-motivated agenda as reducing inequality - are actively working to throw the less well off out of employment while they themselves continue to roll in state-funded lolly.

What's more, as they count their cash and enjoy a comfortable life on the back of the tax taken from the labours of others, ASH will doubtless also not give a stuff about the real, but incalculable, unhappiness they have caused by destroying bingo.

Former bingo caller Jim Bowen understands how much the game means to millions of fans.

"A lot of people who play bingo are widows, people whose husbands have died or are ill, and they're carers, and they manage to get two hours away from the strain and stress and demands of domestic life."
Contrary to the laughable departure from reality promoted by money-grubbing tobacco control advocates, the smoking ban has indeed been "particularly detrimental for both the profitability and long term outcomes" of the bingo industry, just as predicted. It has also turned low income families into no income families, and closures have brought misery and seclusion to the lives of many thousands of people.

How proud they must feel.

** The impact on ordinary people is what is important here since the Bingo Association are hardly blameless for their demise.


Smoking Hot said...

Amusement centres suffered the same. Many of the customers simply disappeared. Not immediately but slowly. They tried smoking outside but (a large majority are senior citizens)it just wasn't ever going to work. They had to leave their slot machine and if you've been punmping money into you wanted to keep playing that one.Managements did try 'reserved' notices but problems arose.

What is often missed that these places were social gathering centres too. The people that did go there, especially the senior citizens, went for the company too. Sadly many of these are now sat at home ... alone!

ASH and others like them are responsible for making these peoples lives hell but they give a flying fuck do they? Bastards!

Mark Wadsworth said...

I think that this was an intended and not unintended consequence.

Don't forget that the Muslim brigade (who invented bansturbation) object to the use of the name 'Mecca'; their religion forbids gambling; they don't like women going out on their own; and people might have an alcoholic drink at the bingo.

So squashing the bingo halls flat is a win-win-win-win from their point of view.

In fact, putting pubs out of business was also an intended and not an unintended consequence. You're working on the false assumption that ASH gave a toss whether these 'myths' were true or not; we knew they were true and didn't want these things to happen and THEY knew they were true and WANTED those things to happen.

Carl Minns said...

This will not have helped too DP

timbone said...

When presented with these facts (and pub closures) those who control our lives say it is something else. Are they in denial or are they trying to hide what they know is true?

Phil J said...

Dick, I posted a blog on the freedom2choose website nearly 3 years ago detailing the demise of the small Bingo hall in Sth Wigston near Leicester. Every night 200-250 people woluld play, not for big prize money but it was a community meeting place, a gossip centre for many elderly & widoed pensioners. A mopnth into the ban and you were lucky iof 40 people per night turned up! Inevitably it shut. " of the local pubs shut and suddenly you had 200+ OAPs isolated with no meeting place.
ASH promoted the SB with bucketfuls of complete shit and are still spouting it now! Just check out the Gala bingo halls that have shut ;)

Xopher said...

Quote from the Healrh Committee Report Volume 3
"Dr Ashcroft: The experience suggests that those who are really committed to the enjoyment of cigarette smoking, or tobacco smoking in any form, find other
ways of sociability around their smoking. Smoking with their friends outside is no less a form of social interaction than smoking inside."

What a jumped up pratt!
- Dr Richard Ashcroft is/was Reader in Biomedical
Ethics, Imperial College.

Obviously a dedicated Bingo player who offered his profound personal knowledge of the topic to his friends and anti-smoking activists on the Committee.

Angry Exile said...

I think Mark Wadsworth is right that it's a feature rather than a bug but I'm not sure the Muslims have anything to do with it. It's news to me that their religion forbids gambling. Up north people make a few quid rounding up feral camels to be sent to the Middle East for camel racing, so somebody there still likes a bet.

No, I think the true culprits are white Righteous (whiteous?) puritanical arseholes who are so consumed with nannying the joy out of everybody's lives that they make a Presbyterian minister look like John Belushi. I expect they think people might catch third-hand gambling or something.

Leg-iron said...

Smoking ban? No, it's cheap supermarket bingo, that's what's causing it.

Minimum price per ball, that's what we need.

banned said...

As Mark says the decline in Bingo is just a bonus for the righteous because it's just something elderly smokers do and they're probably racist too.

I don't have any figures but a Bingo Woman was complaining to me about a year ago that the 'pot' for the national game (wherin all Mecca houses play simultaneously in a single game) had vastly declined since the ban.

Michael Fowke said...

These people are fanatics. They don't care who they put out of business. It doesn't affect them.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Banned: I can believe that. One of the points made in the report was that a faster version of the game played in between main cards had suffered huge reductions in participation because smokers would take this break time to go outside for a cigarette. This revenue from 'interval bingo' used to make up around 45% of income, so without a fair chunk of it I'm not surprised bingo halls have less money to pay out.

In that respect, anti-smokers have penalised non-smokers with their self-centred crusade, as well.