MPs’ plan to weaken gambling laws come under fire

Betting shops should be allowed to install more high-stake gambling machines, according to a committee of MPs.

The machines, dubbed the crack cocaine of the high street, allow players to place bets of up to £100 with prizes of up to £500.

An editorial in one national newspaper said it was “appalled that a Conservative-led group of MPs is seeking to revive the liberalisers’ discredited agenda”.


The report, by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, suggests that strict rules on gambling machines should be relaxed.

The report, an investigation of the 2005 Gambling Act, recommends raising the number of high-stake (B2) machines in casinos from four to 20.

And it says that local authorities should be free to allow betting shops to install more than the current maximum of four if it would prevent betting shops clustering together.


But an editorial in the Daily Mail said: “Even during the boom years, it was indefensible to encourage breadwinners to squander their earnings on gambling.

“Now, when families have to look after every penny, it is downright immoral. What’s worse is that the MPs are well aware of the harm addiction can do.”

Gareth Wallace, of the Salvation Army, said: “This is a one-way street towards more addictive gambling machines in our communities.


“We’re perplexed that the committee would recommend a further liberalisation of gambling machines when they heard evidence that problem gambling is on the rise.”

And Daniel Webster, of the Evangelical Alliance, warned : “You can lose thousands of pounds an hour on these machines, but if the committee gets its way casinos will be granted more B2 machines, betting shops will be subject to no compulsory limit, and, for the first time, gaming arcades will be allowed to operate them.”

The report also suggests a lower licence fee for independent bookmakers.


And it says the Government needs to do more to make it attractive for internet based operators to base themselves in the UK.

John Whittingdale MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “Gambling is now widely accepted in the UK as a legitimate entertainment activity.”

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