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 Governmentfor 'irresponsible' and 'potentially dangerous' gamblinglegislation proposals.

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

David Bradwell, Public Issues Policy Adviser, said; 'The commitmentto proper industry regulation and to the protection of those mostvulnerable is at the heart of the Gambling Act and yet our callsfor caution and proper analysis have been ignored by DCMS. It'stime that the victims of problem gambling were put beforeprofits.'

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

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

'For such a change to be made in a time of recession, when mostpeople have less money is at best unwise and at worstimmoral.'