With communities across the country preparing for the arrival of huge new casinos, Church of England bishops have warned of the destructive effects of gambling.
A motion was passed by the Church of England’s General Synod indicating “grave concern” at the Government’s “apparent enthusiasm for the promotion of gambling”.
The Synod was presented with evidence from the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Psychiatrists showing that gambling often leads to addiction and destructive social problems.
The warning follows recent reports that 16 new casinos, larger than any currently operating in the UK, will soon be allowed to open in locations across the country.
The reports appeared to be confirmed last week when a letter from the Prime Minister to the Scottish and Welsh governments, which informed them of the plans, was leaked to the press.
Dr Emanuel Moran, specialist adviser on pathological gambling for the Royal College of Psychiatrists, has condemned the decision to allow the new casinos as “…totally reckless.
“It is shamefully irresponsible. Who exactly wants these casinos?
“The magnitude of these casinos is of an order we haven’t seen before. There are different types of fruit machines offering higher prizes.
Hull is one of the locations for the new casinos.
“I am seriously afraid we are going to see an increase in problems with families, children, poverty, crime and suicide, which are all linked to gambling.”
Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, told the Synod: “The gambling industry is profoundly costly, its human pollution in terms of promoting addiction, destroying family life and so forth, is manifest. The industry needs to take responsibility.”
New casinos covering an area of up to 53,820 sq ft (5,000 sq m) are expected to open in the following locations: Great Yarmouth, Hull, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Newham, Solihull and Southampton.