Nick Harding on gorillas, the Olympics and bingo duty


“Moving towards the end of the main summer season and I am very pleased with the performance of our seaside venues, all of which have shown growth on last year. Our newest FEC (in Margate) only really got up and running in July but in a short period of time has shown its potential for next year, ably assisted by ‘Guy the Gorilla’ who is a 20 foot high inflatable gorilla who is sitting on our canopy outside the FEC.

Sadly some local killjoys have complained to the local council and we are now engaged in a battle to save Guy! For next season we may have not only Guy but a very fetching purple dinosaur to keep him company….

The long awaited Select Committee report into UK Gaming was published in July and is being complemented on all sides for its pragmatic and supportive approach to what is an important part of the UK economy. From our perspective the two key recommendations were firstly that Bingo Duty be reduced to 15% (from 20%) and secondly that AGCs should have parity with the Bookmakers in the provision of B2 gaming machines at each venue.

Clearly there are mixed views about B2 gaming machines, but from my perspective there are no mixed views about the unfairness of the current situation where one adult only controlled venue can offer a category of gaming machine that another adult only controlled venue can’t.

The man on the Clapham Omnibus would think that this state of affairs is complete madness, and so do I !

Apart from stating the obvious regarding the Olympics (fantastic spectacle, and huge pride in the way that the UK was showcased during the event) the effect on our business was mixed. Bingo suffered, with lower admissions during the Olympics fortnight while the new London business that we acquired last November performed very well.

Overall though it’s been a good summer but we have to acknowledge that the weather has been very much in our favour. We are always quick to point out when we have either had a foot of snow, or the sun has been ‘cracking the flags’ so when its relatively cold and wet it is very much in our favour.”

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