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HMRC internal manual

VAT Betting and Gaming Guidance

Bingo: examples of types of bingo games

Main session games

Players can purchase books of tickets for taking part in these games. The charge for each book normally comprises both stakes and participation fees. Gaming regulations require the trader to display notices of its charges for admission and for playing bingo games. Any money not retained as a participation fee must be returned to the players as winnings, apart from the bingo duty chargeable.

Jackpot games

These games will normally be charged for separately from the main session games and usually bear a participation charge. Stake money must again be wholly returned as prizes during the session. The trader may offer to augment the prize from other income as a ‘jackpot’ if the game is won within a specified number of balls being drawn.

If the number of balls drawn reaches the specified limit without the game being won, the game continues, but the eventual winner only receives the normal prize. In subsequent games the number of balls specified increases, meaning that there is a greater likelihood of the jackpot being won. The winner who eventually calls ‘house’ within the number of balls specified receives both the normal and jackpot prizes.

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Snowball games

These are played in the same way as jackpot games except that the size of the snowball prize also increases from game to game.

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Linked bingo

Two or more clubs may join together using remote communication and play a single simultaneous game of bingo for stakes hazarded by all the players taking part. Each club involved must account for VAT on any admission charges taken at its own premises. The central organiser of the game will be responsible for accounting for any administrative charges. It is also played as a national game.

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Multiple bingo

This is similar to linked bingo but it is a national game, the same game being played separately in each of a group of clubs. Clubs again must account for VAT on any admission charges taken at their premises. A sum of money will be sent to the organiser of the games for use as prize money which is outside the scope of VAT.

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Instant/Parti bingo/mechanised bingo

These are all different names for the same type of bingo that may be played as an interval game. Play takes place at a playing position bearing a Perspex card of numbers that becomes operative when a coin is inserted. The club normally retains part of the charge as a participation fee and returns the balance, less bingo duty, as prizes in the game.

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Bingo terminals

Bingo terminals are used to play an electronic version of bingo and are typically available in two forms: electronic bingo terminal (EBT) and video bingo terminal (VBT). An EBT is a handheld device which is usually linked to the ticket book games that are being played. A VBT has the physical characteristics of a gaming machine.

Where a machine meets the characteristics of bingo machines listed in guidance published by the Gambling Commission in June 2009 called Key characteristics of bingo, although some of the criteria are for regulatory purposes only, we accept that for VAT purposes the machine is designed or adapted for playing bingo.

The supplies made from using the machine will be exempt from VAT under Item 1, Group 4, of Schedule 9, VAT Act 1994.