13 June 2011
Gambling set to rise with stakes doubled on fruit slot machines
Churches fear that problem gambling is set to rise after the government announced plans to relax rules on the number of fruit machines in arcades and double the stakes from £1 to £2.
Two draft Statutory Instruments were submitted to Parliament on 7 June. These measures would increase the maximum stake for category B3 gaming machines (a type of fruit machines) andraise the cap on the maximum number of such machines at adult gaming centres and bingo halls.
The Evangelical Alliance, the Church of England, the Methodist Church, the Salvation Army, Quaker Action on Alcohol and Drugs and CARE have expressed concern at the Government's plans.
They work together to ensure that gambling activity is properly regulated and vulnerable people are protected. The churches have been campaigning against the proliferation of betting shops and slot machine arcades in provincial precincts. The evidence suggests that use of high stake, high prize machines is consistently linked with problem gambling.
In response to the 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey, published earlier this year by the Gambling Commission, John Penrose MP, the minister responsible for gambling, said: "The Labour government liberalised gambling laws but failed to implement the safeguards needed to protect the public and as a result the number of problem gamblers has risen to almost half a million."
The church groups are shocked and disappointed that the coalition government has made these proposals which will further liberalise the law. They are calling on the government not to implement this irresponsible rise when research into the potential effects has not been done.
Daniel Webster, the Alliance's parliamentary officer, said: "These changes are purely driven by a desire to increase profit for the gambling industry, with no regard for protecting vulnerable people from gambling dependency. Make no mistake, problem gambling ruins lives, tears families apart and all the while raids the pockets of the poorest."
Tel: 07766 444 650
Notes to Editors
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.