Government plans to increase the number of large casinos in the UK have been branded ‘reckless’ by Methodists.
Councillors in Solihul in the West Midlands are likely to approve a massive £120 million gambling complex next month, and other new casino schemes are being planned for Hull, Middlesborough, Southampton, Milton Keynes and Leeds.
But today a spokesman for the Methodist Church spoke out against the plans, calling government plans ‘at best reckless’ and warning that gambling is damaging thousands of lives.
Paul Morrison, Policy Advisor for the Methodist Church, said: “The number of casinos in the UK is set to increase by around ten per cent.
“The industry is focusing on building the largest casinos available to them - not the proposed supercasinos, because the Churches, alongside others, successfully argued against their construction – but what are technically known as "large casinos".
“The residents of Stratford in East London living next to their recently opened "large" casino probably don't care much about this distinction.
“The Churches’ first concern is to reduce the negative impact of the gambling industry, especially the number of problem gamblers.
“The largest piece of research into gambling in the UK published last year showed that problem gambling is on the increase. Casinos make their profit from slot machines, and the evidence is clear that these are strongly linked to problem gambling.
“To allow a further large-scale expansion of the casino industry before tackling the problems that it causes is at best reckless and at worst destructive to the thousands of people whose lives will be damaged by problem gambling.”
Industry analysts believe that the new casinos are likely to increase the amount of money that punters lose by 30 per cent, pushing the figure above £1bn a year.
Church groups including the Salvation Army and the Quakers have been urging the Government to introduce a compulsory levy on the betting industry which will fund the development of programmes of treatment for problem gambling.
February 3rd, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross