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Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Methodists, Salvation Army warn of dangers of mega-casinos
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¬†The Salvation Army and the Methodist Church put out a statement yesterday, expressing fears that the Government's latest gambling proposals do not do enough to protect vulnerable people and children from new high jackpot machines in new 'mega casinos'. Despite some welcome moves on high-value fruit machines, they say there are still key areas of the Government's final policy statement on gambling, before a Bill is brought to Parliament, where protection for vulnerable people and children is clearly inadequate. The statement said: "The churches are pleased that the Government has decided that £1 million jackpot machines will only be allowed in the largest casinos. If the Government had accepted the recommendation of the Joint Committee scrutinising the gambling proposals, these machines, which are among the most addictive forms of gambling, could have found their way into high-street locations across the country. "But the Government's proposals do not deal with the growing problem associated with Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), which are found in high street betting shops. These machines allow customers to stake over £100 in a single go. Not only do the current proposals fail to clamp down on the amount that can be staked on FOBTs, they would also allow them into arcades and clubs for the first time." Rachel Lampard, Secretary for Parliamentary and Political Affairs for The Methodist Church said: "We have never seen this type of high value fruit machine in the UK before and it is important that they are introduced slowly and in very controlled environment. Research needs to be done on the effect of these machines in the UK before a further roll-out is even considered." "The proliferation of fixed odds betting terminals is becoming a real problem," said Jonathan Lomax, Public Affairs Officer for The Salvation Army. "Charities helping people with gambling problems are reporting that the number of cases of people addicted to these machines is growing month on month. They are quite clearly a hard form of gambling which should not be made even more widely available." The Churches are concerned that the current proposals risk an explosion in the number of mega-casinos in the UK. They report that there are already scores of applications for prospective casino developments in the pipeline with local authorities, well before the proposals even become law. "If we are going to have these casinos then their introduction should be done in a controlled way," said Rachel Lampard. "The Government should limit the number of mega-casinos to two per region until their impact has been established through rigourous research." The Salvation Army and Methodist Church agree with the Government's stated position that gambling is an adults-only activity. They say they are deeply disappointed, to see that the government is still failing to live up to this commitment. In an NOP poll commissioned by The Salvation Army, 84% said that children should not be allowed to play fruit machines. 93% of people said there were already enough opportunities to gamble in Britain. Source: Methodist Press Office
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