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LONDON – Top Ten Bingo, one of the biggest names in land based bingo halls in the United Kingdom is struggling to survive after legal wrangling over VAT saw closure of 16 of its 40 bingo halls.

The company posted a loss for the third consecutive year, unlike the two major names in the industry; Rank and Gala. Chairman Graham Kerr earlier announced that he believed the company was due £20 million from Revenue and Customs in VAT repayments but they only got £3.5 million from the tax man.

Even with only 24 bingo halls left running, Top Ten Bingo seems to be hemorrhaging money and has total debt of £30 million, so even a VAT refund of the full amount would see it heavily in the red still.

Accounts filed for the year ending March 28, 2010 show that turnover fell by almost a fifth from £25.6 million to £20.7 million. The firm recorded a loss of £8.2 million after losing £5.9 million the previous year.

Many land based bingo companies are struggling to stay afloat with a new tax regime, the smoking ban and the financial crisis hitting the industry hard. Buckingham Bingo, based in Manchester is also struggling to survive.

For the largest operators in land based bingo, Rank Group and Gala, the key to their survival has been developing their online bingo sites to provide the majority of their profit thanks to different taxation on online gambling.

The dispute between the bingo industry and HMRC has been going on since 2008 and a speedy outcome appears unlikely. The £30million of debt that Top Ten has incurred could prove too much of a burden to allow it to continue trading.