Changes to tax regulations which would see pub quiz and games machines like Cluedo and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire reclassified as gambling machines will cost the industry £85m, or £2,500 per pub.
That's the claim from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) which warned the move could put manufacturers out of business and move customers on to gambling on fruit machines.
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is seeking to reclassify Skills with Prizes (SWP) machines as gambling machines, which makes them liable for gaming machine tax.
The BBPA said that SWP machines have become increasingly popular over recent years, with 35,000 now being used in the UK.
It argued that SWP machines have always been recognised as distinct from gambling machines, where chance is the deciding factor on whether a player wins a cash payout. HMRC used to levy a separate SWP tax until it was removed in 2006. Gambling machines have always paid Amusement Machine Licence Duty (AMLD).
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA said: “The perverse result of this tax change will be to switch more people onto gambling as quiz machines are switched off across Britain. That cannot be a sensible or sustainable public policy outcome for government.
“It must make more sense for government to encourage those people who enjoy playing machines to have a bit of fun with their friends with games that are about skill and entertainment, rather than turn to gambling. At the moment there is an incentive for pubs and people to play these machines. This proposed tax change will remove that at a stroke."
By Neil Gerrard
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