26 January 2009

Methodist anger at Government's 'immoral' gambling proposals

In a submission to the Department for Culture Media and Support (DCMS), the British Methodist Church has criticised the Government for 'irresponsible' and 'potentially dangerous' gambling legislation proposals.

The DCMS is accused of giving in to pressure from the gambling industry, concerned more with the profits of gambling operators than with protection of vulnerable people.

David Bradwell, Public Issues Policy Adviser, said; 'The commitment to proper industry regulation and to the protection of those most vulnerable is at the heart of the Gambling Act and yet our calls for caution and proper analysis have been ignored by DCMS. It's time that the victims of problem gambling were put before profits.'

David said he was 'appalled' by plans to increase slot machine stakes and prize limits even more than originally suggested just a few months ago. DCMS is proposing to double stakes and prizes for Category C slot machines, commonly found in pubs and clubs around the UK. This would see maximum stakes go up to £1 and maximum prizes to £70. At a time of increasing poverty and unemployment, the maximum prize for a pub fruit machine will be higher than weekly benefit levels.

'Gaming machines are one of the most addictive forms of gambling,' continues David. 'This move would mean that every pub can become a hard gambling environment where large sums of money can be won, or more likely lost, in a very short space of time. This is a great deal for the gambling industry, and a poor deal for everyone else.

'For such a change to be made in a time of recession, when most people have less money is at best unwise and at worst immoral.'

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